Metro

NAMES

No, a Harvard football player didn’t give his Yale rival the middle finger before a touchdown

Boston, MA - 11/17/2018 - (4th quarter) Harvard Crimson running back Devin Darrington (36) run for a touchdown during the fourth quarter was called back because of an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Crimson during the fourth quarter. Harvard hosts Yale at Fenway Park. - (Barry Chin/Globe Staff), Section: Sports, Reporter: John Powers, Topic: 18Yale-Harvard , LOID: 8.4.3826701376.
Barry Chin/Globe Staff The Boston Globe
Harvard Crimson running back Devin Darrington (36), shown holding up his index finger during a run for a touchdown during the Harvard-Yale game Saturday at Fenway Park.

Harvard Crimson football player Devin Darrington undoubtedly flashed a finger at his Yale rivals as he neared the end zone at Fenway Park Saturday, during the annual matchup between the two Ivy League schools.

But the digit that made a grand appearance wasn’t the one that critics accused him of brandishing.

Now, Darrington is trying to settle the score — and he’s doing it with a little help from a photograph taken by a photographer for the Harvard Crimson.

Advertisement

In a series of tweets following Harvard’s win at the 135th playing of the Harvard-Yale game, Darrington made clear to those who had accused him of “flipping the bird” at an opposing player that they were sorely mistaken.

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

“It was my index finger but okay,” Darrington said in a tweet Saturday afternoon.

The finger incident happened in the fourth quarter, with Harvard leading, 28-27.

Darrington paid the price for the gesture when his touchdown was overturned by the referees, who flagged the running back for taunting.

But the assumption that Darrington flashed his middle finger was everywhere online -- and at first showed no signs of slowing down.

Advertisement

The sports website Bleacher Report, which shared a screenshot of Darrington holding up a finger, wrote “Harvard TD got called back for taunting after the RB gave the defense the finger.”

While it was indeed a finger, it was not the finger.

The truth came to light after Crimson Sports, which covers athletics for the Harvard Crimson, posted an image of Darrington during the play.

“The verdict on the Devin Darrington finger incident,” Crimson Sports wrote on Twitter Saturday, correcting the record.

The picture, taken by Tim O’Meara, the Crimson’s associate multimedia editor, clearly showed Darrington mid-run, holding up his index finger.

Advertisement

O’Meara, in a message to the Globe, said he was out to dinner with his family after the game when they got to talking about Harvard’s 45-27 win over Yale.

His father was “convinced that Darrington had put up his middle finger,” but O’Meara was convinced otherwise.

“So I went back to my dorm after dinner and looked through my photos until I found one that clearly showed it was actually his index finger,” he said. “Once we realized how far it had spread, we decided that we really wanted to make sure that we could get the correct story out there. Not only do we value getting the coverage correct, but we also wanted to make sure that Darrington wasn’t being falsely accused.”

Several of the websites that had claimed Darrington flipped off his opponent eventually backpedaled and corrected their mistakes.

Harvard coach Tim Murphy said after the game that what Darrington had done “was wrong,’’ and agreed that the referees had made “the right call.’’

When critics came after Darrington on social media, he agreed the taunting was uncalled for. But he was also upset that his name had been sullied.

“I’m human, I make mistakes and learn from them,” he wrote to one person on Twitter. “I didn’t say the call was wrong. The problem I have is that if my name is going to be ridiculed ... get the facts right before you put something out ON MY NAME.”

Darrington, who was not immediately available Monday, did his best to clarify the situation, retweeting people who had come to his defense online and changing his Twitter banner to the picture taken by Crimson Sports.

One person on Twitter suggested e-mailing the photograph of Darrington’s pointer finger “to every sports outlet that made this error.”

Even though the touchdown was overturned, and Darrington found himself on the receiving end of some online criticism, the sophomore helped the team clinch a win on Saturday.

“Learned a lesson and answered with 2 more touchdowns,” he tweeted. “[W]as a great day.”

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.