I usually hate NFL fights.
These are multimillion-dollar professionals, after all. I feel people paid such high amounts of money should be held to a high standard for behavior and work ethic.
Then why was I cheering when Andre Johnson went off on Cortland Finnegan toward the end of the Houston Texans-Tennessee Titans game on Sunday?
Finnegan had it coming.
Known in the league as one of the NFL's most talented defensive backs, Finnegan is also one of the dirtiest. Cheap shots and unnecessary roughness plays that could cause injury to other players seem to be his forte.
Over the 2010 season, Finnegan has already been fined twice by the NFL for his dirty tactics. In September, he threw New York Giants player Steve Smith to the ground by his helmet. In October, he hit Chris Kuper from the Denver Broncos after Kuper's helmet had come off.
In Sunday's game, Finnegan constantly pushed Johnson's buttons with pokes and punches. Late in the game, Andre had had enough. He ripped Finnegan's helmet off, threw him to the ground and landed at least two solid punches before the incident was broken up. Both players were ejected from the game, as Finnegan continued to taunt and clap at both Johnson and the Texans fans.
Such an incident will obviously see punishment from the office of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. There's speculation of heavy fines and possibly suspensions to be expected. Worth noting is that Finnegan was already warned of further disciplinary action this season after his previous incidents.
Johnson later apologized for his actions. Finnegan has refused comment as of press time.
With this fight's aftermath certain to be a headline subject today, if I had the chance to speak to the people involved, here is what I would say.
To Cortland Finnegan
You deserved a couple of shots. You are a dirty player, and it was only a matter of time. While your exit from the game made it appear unlikely, I'd hope you would learn a lesson from this. You are too talented to have to resort to cheap shots, and next time a player has had enough it might be worse for you than a couple of punches.
To Andre Johnson
No apology necessary. He had it coming, and frankly I was glad to see it came from you. Finnegan's play makes him no more than a highly paid schoolyard bully at times, and he needed to know what it was like for someone to stand up to him.
To Roger Goodell
This is obviously an incident you will have to review and make a decision on. Hopefully you will realize that while Johnson's actions were not what you'd like to see from any NFL player, he was provoked. Andre Johnson is one of the best-behaved players in the NFL, and the fact that such a cool-headed player lost his temper should speak volumes about Finnegan.
As far as Finnegan goes, Mr. Goodell, I'd hope his punishment for the incident would be more than Johnson's. This is not Finnegan's first incident this season, and action beyond a fine should be considered before another incident takes place between him and another player.