Evaluating five famous bird-flipping incidents in sports

Eric Stangel and Justin Stangel can be found on Twitter (@EricStangel &@Justin_Stangel) and on their own website, StangelBros.com. For 17 years they were writers, head writers and executive producers for the "Late Show With David Letterman." They are on a quest to throw out the first pitch at a Japanese baseball game.

Last night, Johnny Manziel added excitement to a lifeless preseason "Monday Night Football" game by giving the middle finger to the Washington bench. It caught Twitter by storm. Sure, Manziel is going to get fined by the league, but let’s be honest: It was kind of awesome. And he’s not the first athlete to flip the bird. Let’s analyze five other memorable middle fingers.

Johnny Manziel’s "The No-Look Flip Off"

Background: The Browns rookie quarterback lost his cool and reacted to the trash-talking coming from the Redskins’ bench.

Analysis: The best part of the Manziel finger is that he’s facing away from the flipee. Usually a middle finger is a stare-down F.U. Not with Johnny. Johnny don’t play by the rules. Johnny’s walking back to the huddle. Johnny’s not angry. Johnny’s so nonchalant, he doesn’t even bother to turn around. Johnny looked very comfortable. Johnny knows his way around the middle finger. The kid’s got talent.

Grade: A-

Matt Harvey’s "Post-Op Middle Finger"

Background: Last spring Mets ace pitcher Matt Harvey celebrated his six-month Tommy John surgery-versary by posting an old post-op photo of him giving the finger. People went bananas, causing Harvey to delete the photo and then his Twitter account. And probably his computer. You don’t want to take any chances. 

Analysis: This is a whole lot of nothing. This photo tells us one thing: If you take a photo of Matt Harvey in a gown with a surgical cap hairnet thingy while he’s presumably goofed on narcotics, he’s gonna give you the finger. This is who Matt Harvey is. And the fact that he shared it six months later is pretty great, too. Honestly, it makes us sad that this was even an issue.

Grade: B

Rex Ryan’s "Special Message To Dolphins Fans"

Background: In 2010, Rex Ryan was fined $50,000 by the Jets for giving the finger to Dolphins fans at a mixed martial arts event in South Florida.

Analysis: It would be more shocking if Rex was at a mixed martial arts event in South Florida and WASN’T giving the finger. It’s pretty clear that Rex Ryan is who he is and he’s fine with it. He’s wearing a "Wide Guy" shirt. This was before they tied his stomach in knots so he couldn’t go nuts at the buffet. Rex is in the moment. He’s having fun. And honestly, who are we to judge? For all we know, maybe Rex is showing off some secret MMA move. Be honest, is there a single person who is shocked that Rex Ryan gives people the finger? Didn’t think so.

Grade: C

Jack McDowell’s "Suck It, Fans Of The Team I Play For"

Background: In 1995, Jack McDowell won 15 games for the Yankees, but none of that matters. What people remember is the time he was getting booed at Yankee Stadium and flipped off Yankee fans.

Analysis: Bad, bad move Jack. Every other flip-off on this list can be justified. You don’t flip off your own fans. You just don’t. Say what you want about Rex Ryan, but at least he knew to do it to the other team’s fans. I think the pure lack of judgment here is what makes this such a bizarre one. He did it to his own people. A lot of people. In the building where he has to show up 81 times a year. In the media capital of the world. Yeah, that’s not going to bite you in the ass. (By the way, McDowell’s middle finger is the only one on this list to have inspired a song ("The Yankee Flipper" by The Baseball Project).

Grade: D- (Only because the song is good)

Jay Cutler’s "Can I Walk My Tiny Dog In Peace?"

Background: In 2012, Jay Cutler flipped off the paparazzi while walking a tiny dog.

Analysis: In 2012, Jay Cutler flipped off the paparazzi while walking a tiny dog.

Grade: A++++++++++++++