Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan told TitanInsider on Monday night that Houston Texans star Andre Johnson went into “sheer rage” and that he still doesn't quite understand why the receiver reacted by throwing three punches at him.
Finnegan admitted doing a quick jam on Johnson one play after the cornerback's own helmet came off in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 20-0 Houston victory, but said he could not figure out what set Johnson off.
“That, I don't know. 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 and just had it built up,” Finnegan said. “It was sheer rage on his part. I feel like I had self-control not to retaliate, because that's just something you don't do. This not the NHL, it's the NFL.”
Finnegan was referring to Johnson receiving a $7,500 fine last year for shoving him down by the face mask in the game here in Nashville in 2009.
Finnegan and Johnson, who threw three punches in the melee were both fined $25,000, but not suspended. Finnegan said he never expected the NFL to suspend him for his actions Sunday. Finnegan had been warned by the league after week four to tone down his on-field antics.
“No, absolutely not,” he said of a possible suspension. “I didn't throw a punch. It's not a fineable offense. There's nothing I did that I felt like was a fineable offense. 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.”
Finnegan said he realizes that the clip being shown everywhere on television and his reputation around the league has many saying he deserved what Johnson did to him.
“To just echo what everybody else on TV and the world wants to hear, man, I had it
coming. I deserved it. If I was Andre Johnson, I would have did it,” he said with a tone of sarcasm.
Finnegan laughed when reminded that Johnson and the Texans visit Nashville on Dec. 19.
Finnegan said on his weekly radio show on WGFX-FM 104.5 The Zone that he would appeal the fine, and he apologized on the air for inciting the crowd after being ejected from the game.
Finnegan said that when a player's helmet comes off that the general code is the play is over for that player.
“There's a respect issue, When the helmet comes off, the play is over. Did I want it to
escalate into that? Absolutely not. The play is over. I play passionately and at a point, he snapped,” Finnegan said on the show.
At one point in the show, Titans defensive end Dave Ball called in and took issue with the NFL's equal fines for both players, saying that no suspension or a higher fine for Johnson was “ridiculous” and calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, “a grumpy old guy.”
“What he's saying is you can criminally assault someone on the football field when they don't have their helmet on,” Ball said.