Ditka fined for obscene by Saints gesture

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Mike Ditka, the volatile coach of the New Orleans Saints, has apologised for making obscene gestures towards fans during the NFL club's fourth consecutive defeat on Sunday.

Mike Ditka, the volatile coach of the New Orleans Saints, has apologised for making obscene gestures towards fans during the NFL club's fourth consecutive defeat on Sunday.

Ditka, the former coach of the Super Bowl champions Chicago Bears, was handed a $20,000 (£12,500) fine by his club following New Orleans' 24-21 defeat to the Tennessee Titans.

The Saints had a chance to kick a field goal with the ball inches away from the end zone but made a huge blunder, allowing the final seconds to tick off the clock and failing to add to their 10-0 advantage before half-time. When Ditka walked off the field, fans shouted obscenities at him. His response, television replay showed, was to grab his crotch.

Ditka, who is just turned 60, said: "Sometimes getting old is not getting smart. What I did was probably as stupid as anything I've ever done. I make no excuse for it, no alibi. I apologise to everybody."

Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins quarterback, Dan Marino, will not train with the team until tomorrow after coming out of Sunday's game with neck spasms. Damon Huard, who led the Dolphins to a 31-30 victory at the New England Patriots, is likely to start against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Arizona Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer is out of action for at least a month after breaking his finger against the Washington Redskins and will be replaced by Dave Brown, and the New York Jets have lost the reserve quarterback Ray Lucas to a sprained ankle, with Rick Mirer coming in.

The Minnesota Vikings will miss running back Robert Smith for up to six weeks as he needs hernia surgery, and the coach, Dennis Green, will start Jeff George at quarterback in place of the ineffective Randall Cunningham.

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