The football world was astonished as Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan got off easy with minimum $25,000 fines for fighting in the Tennessee Titans/Houston Texans matchup this past weekend. Philadelphia Eagles fans sat on the edge of their seats as they waited for a suspension for Johnson that would never come since the Eagles face off against the Texans this Thursday in Philadelphia. (watch Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan Fight on YouTube)
Fans were surprised with the minimum fine and lack of suspensions because of how tough they have been on helmet-to-helmet hits. To name a couple from earlier this season, Pittsburgh Steelers’ LB James Harrison was fined $75,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Mohamed Massaquoi of the Cleveland Browns. Harrison responded by considering retirement due to the new regulations put on tackles.
Eagles’ cornerback Asante Samuel was fined $40,000 for a hit on the New York Football Giants’ Derek Hagan. Samuel tried to lead with his shoulder but caught a turning Hagan square in the head. The league called him a repeat offender in order to give him such a hefty fine, but it was Samuel’s first time being fined for a helmet-to-helmet.
These hits, though extremely dangerous, also happen in the middle of a game while adrenaline is pumping and players are trying to adjust their bodies correctly while running full speed into an opponent. The fight against Johnson and Finnegan, on the other hand, was after a play and both players were completely in control of their own actions as they threw hits on purpose and ripped each other’s helmets off. Yet, the league decided that this wasn’t as detrimental to the game as accidental helmet hits.
A Johnson suspension would have meant an easier time for the Eagles’ defense, who are coming off a disappointing loss to the Chicago Bears, one of the worst offensive teams in the league. TheÂ BearsÂ are ranked No. 28 in yards per game, No. 22 in points per game and No. 29 in total plays from the line of scrimmage. Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler managed a career-high four touchdown passes during the game, while Michael Vick threw his first interception of the season along with two touchdown passes.
A win over Chicago would have been helpful if the Eagles end up in a Wild Card tiebreaker situation at the end of the season. Now, the Eagles come off a 31-26 loss and face a short week as they host the Texans this Thursday. With a fired up Johnson, who is currently No. 6 in the NFL with 869 receiving yards, in the lineup,Â the Eagles’ defense will have to get back to where they were in Week 11 when they held the Giants to just 17 points to gain control of first place.
Now tied for first, the Giants will face the Washington Redskins this weekend while the Eagles try to keep hold of their first-place spotÂ against the Texans.