Titans coach Jeff Fisher and cornerback Cortland Finnegan pleaded their case to the NFL on Monday morning regarding why Finnegan should avoid a suspension, a league source confirmed.
Fisher’s argument was simple: Finnegan didn’t throw punches, while Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson did. Fisher made the the case that Finnegan would have drawn an illegal hands to the face penalty at worst if Johnson hadn’t ripped Finnegan’s helmet off.
The entire sequence can be viewed at NFL.com, including the play before in which Johnson and Finnegan really started to battle. The two men shoved and jawed at one another, with Johnson eventually pushing Finnegan in the back after knocking his helmet off.
A league source says Johnson started to amp up the trash talking during that sequence, taunting that Fisher was going to leave the Titans soon, among other things. The source says Finnegan denies saying “Watch this” before the fight happened, as reports have indicated.
Frankly, what was said between the men is irrelevant.
It’s more important for the league to view what else happened throughout the game. Johnson said in his post-game comments that a culmination of events led to his explosion.
The baggage both players bring to the fight is significant. Finnegan has been fined repeatedly this year. He’s been warned that his next infraction could result in a suspension.
Johnson, meanwhile, was fined $7,500 last season for taking Finnegan to the ground by the facemask in a scuffle. On Monday, Fisher pushed for Johnson to be punished with a suspension because of his punches thrown. The league could possibly view both players as repeat offenders of their conduct policy.
With the Texans set to play again Thursday, we should find out what the league thinks soon enough.
UPDATE: Fox 26 in Houston reports Andre Johnson won’t be suspended by the league. We are awaiting official word on Finnegan, although early signs point towards no suspension for him as well.