Andre Johnson, Cortland Finnegan get the Richard Seymour treatment

As some Internet hack said during last night’s Chargers-Colts postgame, the NFL set the precedent last week for fighting, fining Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour $25,000 after throwing an open hand to the face of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

On Sunday, Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan engaged in a more graphic display of mutual fisticuffs.  Per multiple reports (we could start listing them but then we’ll leave someone out and we’d inevitably get an e-mail about it), the NFL has fined each guy $25,000, with no suspension for either player.

Just like Seymour.

Presumably, both have been given the minimum fine set forth for repeated offenders, given Johnson’s $7,500 fine for an incident last year with Finnegan, and Finnegan’s general history of being a flagged-and-fined punk.

Perhaps the NFL is a little gun shy right now, given that fines imposed against Baby Fridge for crotch-grabbing and Bart Scott for non-chinstrap-fastening have been overturned recently by Art Shell and Ted Cottrell, who handle the appeals.  Still, there’s something fundamentally different, in our view, about hitting a guy who’s wearing a helmet and hitting one who isn’t.  At a minimum, the penalty for punching a helmetless player should be severe, regardless of whether it’s a first strike or a tenth one.

It’s an issue that needs to be taken up in the offseason, and it’s something that the league and the union need to resolve as part of the new CBA.  Either pro football will become hockey, where fighting is part of the rubber-necking allure of the sport, or pro football will become basketball, where justice for throwing punches comes swiftly and decisively.  Regardless, this ambiguous and arbitrary middle ground doesn’t work, not when guys are fined much more than $25,000 for aggressive action committed before the whistle blows.

47 responses to “Andre Johnson, Cortland Finnegan get the Richard Seymour treatment

  1. According to anonymous sources in the NFL front office, part of Courtland Finnegan’s punishment includes requiring him to wear that ridiculous haircut for the rest of the season. The unidentified source went on to say, “it was a little tough to dish out more punishment to Courtland in light of the punishment he already suffered at the hands of Johnson”.

    Finnegan commented that “[he] would have preferred the NFL suspend him”.

  2. What a ridiculous outcome. The NFL has absolutely no clue how to handle discipline. Both fines should have exceeded $50K and both players should have been suspended. The “boys will be boys” minimizing mentality has no place in the NFL. When a guy gets the same fine for “tweeting” as these two got for fighting, it completely discredits the point of the fines. The fight should have garnered a suspension for both players and possibly multiple games for Finnegan’s premeditated instigation. If the league does not want “thug” behavior, then it should not be tolerated. Keep increasing the fines for repeat offenders until it starts to make an impact on that player but suspensions for this kind of garbage should be automatic and the starting fine for this should be HUGE

  3. I don’t know what neighborhoods or countries most of you grew up in, but I know that I was raised to protect myself and my family/loved ones. When hit, hit back, and harder. Don’t start it, ever, but always end it (or go out trying to end it). Andre Johnson did just that. There is no way that you should lump their punishment together.

  4. Unreal.

    This is the most UFC-like altercation I’ve seen in the NFL for quite some time and all they get is the minimum fine???

    Had this been Hines Ward or Randy Moss vs. (insert NE Cheatriot CB here), they would have been suspended and fined four times as much. The Cheatriot CB would have received no fine since Goodell and Kraft are boyfriends.

    There’s clearly a double standard here.

  5. There is only one way to look at this–selfishly!!
    I don’t care about fines. My only concern is that two of my fantasy WR’s (Brandon Marshall and Hakeem Nicks) are hurt and I also have Andre Johnson. I need him desperately this week. No suspension works for me!!!

  6. Good Lord, Florio. Why don’t you apply to be the spokesperson for the No Fun League already and do us a favor and cut down on this soapbox preaching. Who cares if its helmet vs no-helmet?

  7. As one NFL player said, AJ could pass the hat around the NFL and collect enough money to pay that fine and have enough left over to buy a new car!

  8. Finnegan got put in his place twice now by AJ. When will this dumbass learn to try to intimidate someone else?
    Next time AJ may just severely and permanently hurt that clown.

  9. My favorite line going around the internet:

    His new jersey will say Innegan on the back because Andre beat the F out of him!

  10. Wouldn’t the fisticuffs constitute battery charges for one or the other player? I mean, if they had this fight in a club, the police would be all over them.

  11. FinFan68:

    While I’m not going to disagree with you much…I hope this sentiment you’re passionately conveying was also vented when Seymour slugged Roethlisberger unexpectedly. It was essentially worse, seeing as how he blindsided an unsuspecting player with a direct punch.

    The NFL should have been harder on Seymour. But it wasn’t. Their call.

    If anything, these fines show that the league is at least being consistent. They couldn’t suspend these two when it’s clear they concluded it’s not worse than what Seymour did. You can be angry about the penalties but you must be so across the board, as they are at least showing consistency.

  12. I expected more severe fines. Wow. Dre’s teammates will pass around a collection helmet in tomorrow’s meetings and put together $25,000 in no time.

    I was thinking $50,000 or more for each.

    Seems like a wrist-slap…but I’ll take it!

    Go Texans!!!

  13. deeowens11:

    “I don’t know what neighborhoods or countries most of you grew up in, but I know that I was raised to protect myself and my family/loved ones.”

    That’s a stretch. Linking protecting one’s self or family when in imminent danger of injury or death is not the same as getting in a tussle with an opposing player. It’s just not. Johnson wasn’t in danger but was pushed by a dirty player to his tolerance ceiling.

    I’m neither condoning nor lambasting Johnson or Finnegan’s behavior. But I think we have to be a bit more levelheaded with our comparisons.

  14. Ok, from now on, James Harrison should wait until the QB is just about to throw the ball and then punch him instead of sacking him. It will save him some money!

  15. Second offense for James Harrison=$75K and a giant target on his back. It’s now two weeks in a row that he got flagged for roughing the passer on totally clean hits.

    4th offense for Finnegan=$25K…

    Steelers players have a right to be upset about this one, too.

    Goodell either needs to up the ante for offenders like Finnegan, or admit that he jumped the gun by fining Harrison $75k on an illegal, but not dirty, tackle.

    Otherwise, Steelers fans and players will always have something to gripe about because that’s a clear double standard.

  16. @FinFan68 :

    It was not up to the “NFL” this is the punishment that was set up in the last labor negotiations. They cannot hand out more of a punishment than that, it would be against the player unions rule. Right or not (i did not have as big a problem with it as others ) it is what they have in place….

  17. Other players get fined more for wearing non-approved clothing or cleats, or minor off the field incidents. Goodell is a stooge who has his pet clubs, i.e. Pats, Colts, Cowboys and Packers and his favorite players. I’m sure he would’ve liked to have hit Finnegan harder but as low life as Finnegan is, he verbally enticed Johnson to start the fight and the tape doesn’t lie…….they both should’ve been suspended a minimum of 3 games.

  18. So Titans linebacker Will Witherspoon gets popped for $40K for an accidental helmet-to-helmet hit against Donovan McNabb, when he could have ripped his helmet off and popped him in the jaw three times for only $25K??? Will should ask for a refund.

  19. Finnegan should have been fined 50K and had his jersey name replaced with “Asshat” for the rest of the season.

    Johnson should get the key to the city and a nice dinner paid for by Asshat.

  20. The $25,000 was for slapping each other and hair pulling like a couple of 3rd-grade girls

    If Seymour, Finnegan or Johnson ever gets man enough to really punch someone and do some damage, then you’ll see a real fine and suspension. Those little boys should watch some tape of Mean Joe Green and Jack Lambert sledge-hammering guys

  21. I’m glad that so many of the posters here, if allowed to be the comish, would make decisions based on how much man love or man hate they have for players. Just because you love AJ or hate Finnigan, does not make their actions ok. If a player rips your helmet off, you should first off, make sure it’s actually secured properly, and then wait for the personal foul penalty. You should not rip that players helmet off and smash his face in, no matter what he said.

    This whole situation is a giant fail. Fail by the NFL. Fail by the players involved. Fail by the refs on the field. And most certainly, Fail by the posters on the blogs.

  22. Andre is lucky he’s playing on NFL Network this week in the marquee game, or else he’s suspended for at least a week. Goodell is a hypocritical windbag. It’s easy to take the moral high ground when it puts money in your pocket, far more difficult when it costs you money. The most imporatant thing about this is it exposes Goodell for being the fraud that he is. Next time he can take that self-righteous crap and shove it. As far as the actual fight, Finnegan’s a punk and what went around came around. About time we have a legitimate, helmets off football fistfight. I hope this starts a trend, as the precedent is set you will not be suspended.

  23. I like it… It just shows how Goddell makes this crap up as he goes along. Yes, I know there are alot of Steeler haters out there and yes I know Ben f-ed up but Harrison is not a dirty player. I watch all the games for the last 4 years and I have never seen him hit after the play,kick or throw a cheap shot and never spit in someone face. I have seen him hit like a LB should. Goddell needs to be BANNED from the NFL before he ruins the game we all love!

  24. Hey Cortalnd, watch this:

    Roger, can let Andre know how many more punches he can land before being suspended? They play again in a month, so if you could get back to him before then, that would be great.

  25. @mooney/@danwhitmer: Seymour should have gotten a suspension as well. The NFL has finally acted consistently, but both rulings were consistently bad. These two incidents were not inadvertant and neither was the result of a split second error due to timing or movement. There is no excuse for what these two did. If you can’t get suspended for instigating a fight and/or beating the crap out of somebody after the whistle (Finnegan deserved another punch or two) then what the hell can you get suspended for? IMHO, a player deserves to be suspended, like Santonio Holmes was, for weed…but the on-field fight is a worse offense “to the game” and deserves suspension.

  26. More of the same from Goodell… do whatever the hell he wants and the rest of us can just deal with it! The only lesson here is if you wanna hit the QB, your better off ripping his helmet off and punching him in the face, because god forbid you hit him with your own helmet during, ya know, and actual football play, your in for a 50k fine minimum!

  27. “I don’t know what neighborhoods or countries most of you grew up in, but I know that I was raised to protect myself and my family/loved ones. When hit, hit back, and harder. Don’t start it, ever, but always end it (or go out trying to end it). Andre Johnson did just that. There is no way that you should lump their punishment together.”

    Exactly. That no tolerance policy “playground politics” crap has no place in sports, or general society. The instigator should have a much more painful punishment than the one who suffered entrapment. Every time.

  28. “His new jersey will say Innegan on the back because Andre beat the F out of him!”

    That, sir, is awesome!

    Frankly I’m shocked by this announcement, because it essentially equates what Seymore did to what Finnegan/Johnson did — and they are in no way similar. There is a pattern forming here that really raises the question of whether the league is serious about “character” in its players.

    Has there ever been a closed-fisted punch thrown against a helmet-less player that did *not* result in a suspension? I’d be curious to know. . .

  29. I was watching the game and saw the fight. If the commissioner wants to stop fights, he needs to do more than fine the players. And the fine structure seems unfair to me. I prefer less fighting and more playing.

  30. I wonder if Johnson wasn’t playing in prime time on the NFL network on Thursday – if the decision might have been different. They wouldn’t put the only marquis player for the Texans out of the game

  31. Everyone here is complaining about the wrong thing.

    The problem isn’t (directly) that the players were fined “only” $25k. Sure, you could argue that $25k isn’t enough, but that’s not the point: the NFL has a policy, and the policy was followed. Best of all, since there’s a policy, the owners, players’ reps, et al can meet and effect a change in policy.

    No, the problem here is that there is *not* a fine schedule in place for helmet-to-helmet hits. There’s no set of laws in place to guide players in their behavior and the league in its discipline; instead, arbitrary fines are handed out, and as a result everyone accuses everyone else of favoritism, homerism, et cetera.

    If the NFL created and enforced a comprehensive fine schedule, no one could claim favoritism—they knew what the fines were, they can verify that the fine they received is the one called for in the situation, and there’s no mystery or suspicion that someone might be playing favorites.

    Instead of bitching about the rules that the NFL has right, recognize where they’re wrong (lack of fine schedule for helmet-to-helmet) and talk about that. Once we’ve crossed that hurdle, then we can talk about the particulars of the fine scales and whether they’re a sufficient deterrent for the players.

  32. section,

    I was thinking the exact same thing. If Houston was plaing on Sunday, Johnson would be sitting this week. And if AJ plays, it would be hard to suspend Finnegan. No way does Goodell mess with an NFLN game.

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