HOUSTON — Andre Johnson called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday morning, before the league fined Houston’s star receiver and Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan US$25,000 each for their fight a day earlier.
Johnson did not speak with Goodell, but left a message. Johnson said that Goodell called back and left a voicemail while the Texans were preparing to practise on Monday night.
“I just think that was something that I needed to do, just to communicate with him and let him know my side,” Johnson said. “I’ll give him a call back and whenever we get a chance, we’ll talk.”
Neither player was suspended after they slugged it out in the fourth quarter of Houston’s 20-0 victory.
Finnegan set off the brawl by jabbing at Johnson’s neck and face mask at the line of scrimmage. Johnson ripped off Finnegan’s helmet and landed at least two punches to Finnegan’s head and neck. The two spun each other, and Finnegan tore off Johnson’s helmet before players and referees intervened.
Houston (5-6) plays at Philadelphia (7-4) on Thursday night, and Johnson said he was relieved to learn that he’d be allowed to play.
“That’s something I have been thinking about ever since the incident happened,” Johnson said. “I’m happy that I’m not suspended. At the same time, I’m not happy about my actions.”
When asked if he would appeal the fine, Johnson said “probably not.”
“Just looking at it, I mean, what can I say?” Johnson said. “There’s not really anything I can say, or tell them.”
Finnegan did not speak to reporters after Sunday’s game, but talked about it Monday on his weekly radio show. Finnegan said Johnson “snapped,” and added that if he had punched Johnson, the NFL likely would have suspended him.
“This is the NFL, not the NHL, and it’s a higher standard,” Finnegan said. “That’s the NHL. They fight. They get penalized for that. The NFL, it’s not even heard of … you do that, you’re suspended. Hands down. That’s what I’ve been taught.
“I guess he got his money’s worth.”
This was the second time they scuffled during a game. Last season, Johnson was fined $7,500 for taking Finnegan to the ground by the face mask.
Finnegan plans to appeal the fine for Sunday’s brawl. He told TitanInsider late Monday that Johnson went into “sheer rage” and that he still doesn’t quite understand why the receiver reacted by throwing three punches at him.
“That’s the crazy part, because I felt like the game was going pretty good, other than the fact that he probably had that built up over last year’s time,” Finnegan said.
Finnegan also told the Website he didn’t think he deserved a suspension or a fine.
“I didn’t throw a punch. It’s not a fineable offence,” he said. “There’s nothing I did that I felt like was a fineable offence. Maybe a flag for quick-jamming him and hitting him in the face mask. But there’s no way that I thought that that would ever be a suspension.”
Johnson wouldn’t say if he was surprised that Finnegan wasn’t suspended. The Titans (5-6) play Jacksonville (6-5) on Sunday.
“He can say what he wants to say,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to keep talking about him.
“He’s just looking for attention, so I’m not worried about that.”
Finnegan was fined for personal fouls in three consecutive games earlier this season and was warned by the league after the third incident to watch his behaviour after the whistle.