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INADVERTENT BRUSH WITH THE LAW SENDS TASKER INTO 'EARLY' RETIREMENT

Steve Tasker felt bad enough to cry, but he couldn't help but laugh.

The Buffalo Bills' season-finale against the Green Bay Packers Saturday was also the last game of Tasker's 13-year NFL career. His plan was to go out on his terms.

Instead, he wound up entering retirement sooner than he wanted to after all.

It was only 1:37 into the Bills' 31-21 loss when Tasker was ejected by referee Mike Carey after arguing the officials' ruling that a punt had bounced off the back of Ray Jackson for a fumble and Tyrone Davis recovered in the end zone for a Green Bay touchdown.

"I've got to apologize to my teammates and the fans for letting that happen," said Tasker, who had announced his retirement plans a week ago. "It's not really the way I wanted my career to end or my final game, obviously.

"I was very sad that I had to leave the game, but on the other hand I was kind of laughing because (it was as if he was saying), 'Hey, see ya! Let me be the first to say good-bye.' It was really sad . . . but you have to laugh."

Carey said Tasker was ejected for bumping back judge Tom Sifferman on his way back from the sidelines to argue the call, which he thought was wrong after watching a replay on one of the stadium's giant TV screens. However, TV replays appeared to show that the ball brushed Jackson's back after bouncing off the ground.

"He (Tasker) came in complaining . . . and bumped the official while he did that," Carey said. "And by rule, we have to eject a player if that happens."

Asked if he were aware that Tasker was playing his last game, the referee said, "Of course. That's not a license. It's unfortunate, but it's not a license."

Tasker, who had never been ejected before, said he inadvertently brushed Sifferman in the back "on the way to the head official." In fact, he wasn't even aware of his ejection until he returned to the sidelines after arguing the call.

"I didn't know that I had been ejected until one of my teammates had told me," Tasker said. "So I went to the ref and asked, 'Am I out?' and he said, 'Yeah.' And I said, 'Man, I'm sorry to make you do that to me. I didn't mean to put you into that position.'

"I really didn't know why I had gotten thrown out until I had heard a report on the (television) broadcast. . . . But it was my fault and it is a rule. Even though I had no intention of pushing an official or bumping an official, it is a rule and it (the ejection) was probably the right call.

"Obviously, on a play like that, you're going to argue whether you're right or wrong, and I was probably wrong."

Tasker said he watched the rest of the game on TV in the dressing room "with the cops" because he didn't want to be any more of a distraction to his teammates.

"I would love to apologize to my wife (Sarah), because it was her last game, too," Tasker said. "She was watching at home, and I felt bad for her. By the same token, I didn't get thrown out because I completely lost my mind. I tried to get past an official, and I brushed against him, and I apologize to him, too.

"I apologize to everybody involved, especially the fans and my teammates and the coaching staff as well."

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