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Ball: NFL discipline sets bad precedent

Titans defensive end Dave Ball said he has major issues with how the NFL handled the disciplinary end of the Cortland Finnegan-Andre Johnson brawl on Sunday.

Both players were fined $25,000, but neither was suspended, even though Johnson landed three punches to Finnegan's head with both players' helmets off.

On Monday night, Ball called in to Finnegan's weekly radio show to defend his teammate and voice his frustrations over the league's discipline stance. On Wednesday, he didn't back down, saying the NFL has opened the door for players to repeat the offense in the future.

“In my opinion, what that decision does, is says if you're provoked, you can take somebody's helmet off and you can punch them in the face three times. And it's a $25,000 fine and no suspension. That's basically what the ruling states,” Ball said.

Asked if that would encourage players in the future to react similarly, Ball responded, “(Expletive)! Andre Johnson did that! He's already tried. He already did it and got away with it. Richard Seymour punched Ben Roethlisberger open-handed in the facemask and he got $25,000, and I don't get how that's the same thing.”

Ball has been outspoken before about fines, saying that old time players like Night Train Lane, Deacon Jones and Dick Butkus would have to get a second job to pay all their fines if they played in today's NFL.

Ball went on to say that the league targets certain players like Finnegan and protects its big-name stars like Johnson, and buys into the theory that the league did not want Johnson suspended with the Texans on NFL Network Thursday night.

“It sets a terrible precedent. Look how many fans Andre Johnson has, and I'm not saying anything bad about Andre Johnson. People snap, people go crazy. But look at all the fans he has,” Ball said. “In college, LeGarrette Blount punched somebody after the dude got in his face. The dude got in his face. Oregon sat him out, or they tried to at least, for the whole year for one punch to the guy's face.

“This is the NFL. What happens in the NFL is followed closely by college, followed closely by high school, followed closely by kids, and so all these kids are thinking, 'Oh, I love Andre Johnson. He took care of business. That's how I'm gonna play. If somebody gets in my face, I'm gonna smack 'em around.' I'm not against Andre Johnson. Everybody snaps. I snap, too.

“I think the decision is terribly transparent in terms of the NFL trying to protect big-name players, No. 1, and No. 2, they've got a game Thursday night on NFL Network, and trying to protect their investments. You know what I'm saying?”
In terms of who was involved and what the punishment, Ball intimated that the playing field for discipline is not a level one.

“If it was anybody on Peyton Manning, they're out,” Ball said. “If the role is reversed, and that's Cortland Finnegan doing that to Andre Johnson, he's gone for I don't know how many games. Certain players in this league are extremely scrutinized. Cortland, James Harrison, Rodney Harrison of old times. Certain players are just scrutinized.”

And on the flip side, he replied, “Yes, definitely,” when asked if other players are protected.

Ball again defended his embattled teammate, and said that if Finnegan was on the Texans, that he's the type of player Johnson would befriend.

“He's a great teammate. If Andre Johnson had Cortland on his team, he would love him. I guarantee he would love him,” Ball said. “Great teammate, great guy. He was the Man of the Year. He does a lot of things for a lot of needy people. Trust me, if Andre Johnson had him on his team, they'd be boys.”

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