Because it was Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan, and because there’s history between Finnegan and Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson, you can bet the NFL is going to come down hard with fines and possibly suspensions in the wake of the two players’ ugly fight Sunday in Houston.
With Finnegan, it was just business as usual. He’s widely regarded as a dirty player, and he’s already been warned by the league to clean up his behavior after being fined for personal fouls in three consecutive games this season.
On top of that, he and Johnson simply don’t like each other. Last season, they engaged in a sideline fight in Nashville, so it’s likely this skirmish was simply a carryover from that incident.
To sum up: With 7:39 left in regulation and the Texans leading 17-0, Finnegan jammed Johnson hard right off the line.
Things degenerated quickly from there. Johnson yanked Finnegan’s helmet off his head, Finnegan did the same and the fight was on. Johnson threw at least two unanswered punches before they were separated and ejected.
Johnson offered a contribute apology later, saying, “I really don’t have anything to say about Cortland. I would like to apologize to the organization, our owner, my teammates. What happened out there was not me; I just lost my cool and I wish I could take back what happened, but I can’t.’’
According to the Tennessean newspaper, Titans defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks said, “From what I know, every receiver in the league hates Finnegan, I guess because he’s a little guy who doesn’t get bullied. And that’s what happened today. You had a guy who’s 6-5, 220 pounds going against Cortland and thinking he’s going to push him around, and Cortland doesn’t go for it.’’
The NFL isn’t going to go for it either, and Johnson’s reputation as a clean player probably won’t help him. Both players will be penalized equally.
“He hurts his team sometimes,” Texans tackle Eric Winston, speaking about Finnegan, told the Tennessean. “I'm glad he's not on our team. Everybody has a breaking point. I've known Andre a long time, and he's never instigated anything. I know he didn't instigate this, either.’’