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Did NFL Player Andre Johnson Deserve To Get Rewarded For Getting Into A Fistfight?

Submitted by on November 30, 2010 – 9:27 am2 Comments

Before I get into my rant for today, let’s all take a moment to watch the fight that went down between Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson and Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan on Sunday afternoon. Press play now…

See it? If you don’t have the time to check it out, here’s all you need to know: Towards the end of the Texans/Titans matchup, Finnegan was covering Johnson when he either said or did something that infuriated the wide receiver. During an ensuing play, Johnson tore Finnegan’s helmet off and started wildly throwing punches at him. Finnegan then managed to tear off Johnson’s helmet as well before officials interjected and one of Johnson’s teammates managed to make his way over to the scene to break things up. The final result: Both players got tossed, will probably get suspended for next week’s games and put yet another black eye on the NFL’s eye this season.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t stop there. It’s made its way up the Texans’ chain-of-command as well—but not for the reasons you might think. After the game, Johnson’s coach Gary Kubiak didn’t chastise him for the boneheaded decision he made to go after Finnegan. He didn’t beat the NFL to the punch (pun intended) and suspend him immediately. He didn’t announce a fine or tell Johnson to pack his bags and go home. Instead, he did the one thing almost no one would have predicted: He congratulated him on catching over 60 balls for the eighth straight season, made a wise crack about the fight on the field…and handed him a game ball.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t stop there, either. Shortly after the game ended, Texans owner Bob McNair was asked about the fight. Normally in these situations, the owner says something about being embarrassed for the organization and then tells reporters that the head coach will handle the situation properly. But instead of going that route, McNair chose to reveal how he really felt about the fight. “I awarded it to Andre,” he said matter-of-factly. “On points.”

And, unfortunately, the story doesn’t stop there, either! Shortly after the game, whoever handles social media for the Texans jumped on Twitter to address the fight as well. But it wasn’t to issue an apology from the head coach or the owner (clearly!) or to try and add any clarity to the situation. Rather, it was to use the fight in order to give Johnson a shout-out. “Andre Johnson is the No. 6 ranked trending topic of Twitter worldwide right now,” the team’s Twitter handle posted. “Let’s hear it for ‘Dre.”

Um, what?! A player being rewarded for getting into trouble during a game?

To his credit, Johnson came out almost immediately and apologized publicly. He didn’t blame Finnegan for the fight—though he refused to address him at all—and he didn’t issue a politically-correct statement through the team’s publicist. Instead, he stood up and took the blame for what happened on the field. “What happened out there today was not me,” he said. “I just lost my cool and I wish that I could take back what happened, but I can’t. It’s over and done with now. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be disciplined for it. When that time comes, I’m find out what it is and have to deal with it from there…I hope that I’m not suspended for the next game.”

The truth is that Johnson probably will be suspended. What happened out there on the field on Sunday was a disgraceful performance from one of the NFL’s best athletes. What’s more disgraceful though is that Johnson seemed to be the only one that was actually sorry for the fight. He seemed to be the only one who wished that he could take it back and that it had never happened. He seemed to be the only one doing the right thing.

Johnson’s head coach, the owner of the Texans and the Texans PR staff all wanted to congratulate and reward Johnson for a job well-done. Unfortunately, they should have been doing the exact opposite. At least publicly, they should have downplayed the fight, suspended Johnson for a game and moved on from it. No harm done.

Instead, they built it up into something that will now probably end up haunting the team for the rest of the year. And because of that, Andre Johnson shouldn’t be the only one apologizing right now.

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