The NFL Can't Really Punish Andre Johnson For Hitting Another Player

Richard Seymour Ben Roelthisberger Oakland Raiders Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Fight

Houston wideout Andre Johnson ripped the helmet off Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan and the two came to blows during yesterday’s Titans-Texans game. It’s not often fights come this far before being broken by NFL officials, and the players are sure to be disciplined by the NFL.

Some presume a one-game suspension is in the players’ future.

But looking to the past for a standard on NFL fines would indicate the league has no grounds for such a punishment.

Last week, when Raiders’ tackle Richard Seymour slugged Ben Roethlisberger, Seymour was fined a mere $25,000 – chump change for a guy collecting more than $12 million annually.

A one-game suspension would cost Johnson about $320,000 and Finnegan about $160,000, plus whatever fine league officials decide to levy. Sure, their fight was worse than Seymour’s – but not tenfold worse.

Earlier this year, the league fined James Harrison $75,000 for leading with his helmet when hitting an opponent. At least that was a football play. Seymour was disciplined less severely for intentionally injuring an opponent.

The NFL backed itself into a corner by doling out such a weak punishment on Seymour’s hit. It was entirely inconsistent with its public stance on endangering offensive players. And now, the league has backed itself into a corner as it considers punishing the two participants in this brawl.

Here’s video of the Johnson-Finnegan incident:


And here’s video of Seymour:

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