November 29th, 2010
Johnson and Finnegan Brawl: Fighting the Good Fight
In less than ten seconds, the Texans answered a lot of questions about how much heart they have. If that collective heart rests in the chest of mega-receiver, Andre Johnson, then it’s safe to say there is enough to cover all of Houston. Just ask Cortland Finnegan about the magnitude of the heart and haymakers of Andre Johnson.
If you were tired of watching the Texans during their four-game skid, then you might have decided to keep the TV unplugged on Sunday afternoon and opt for some family time. You missed quite the event. It was a heavyweight bout by the time the fourth quarter rolled around. Actually, it was heavyweight versus welterweight at best. Johnson, at 6’ 3” and 225 lbs, had quite the size advantage over Finnegan, at 5’ 10” and 188 lbs… And it showed.
After the helmets were on the turf, the blows came raining down on the head of Finnegan. One to the back of the head, one to the side of the face and then an uppercut for good measure were the final outcome of a one-on-one battle that had been waged for the better part of the game. Football is a physical game. Confrontation is expected. We’ve definitely seen it enough times. We’ve yet to see it from the Texans, much less did we expect seeing Andre Johnson melee with the opposition.
For years – eight, to be exact – the Texans have relied on the cool and calm Johnson to lead by example. Whenever the national media comes through town they talk about the quiet determination of our star wide receiver. In fact, they call him the quietest star in the NFL. That’s for good reason.
So, when the pundits started to weigh in after the game, I shouldn’t have been surprised that they all chuckled and blamed the fight on the ornery Finnegan. When they asked Bob McNair to comment about the fight he said “I’d give [the win] to Andre,” I shouldn’t have batted an eye-lash. And, especially, when the reporters caught up to Johnson after the game to get his comments, I certainly shouldn’t have doubted his apologies to the organization, teammates and fans.
That’s why I didn’t.
Eight years of unquestionable work ethic; Eight years of staying out of the news for all the wrong reasons; Eight years as an athlete dedicated to the craft and not the limelight that comes with it, can buy you something immeasurable: Authenticity and the benefit of the doubt. Eight years gets you forgiveness, forgetting and celebrating the one time you take out your frustrations with a whirlwind of fists.
That’s why today, after landing three, huge punches to the face and head of Cortland Finnegan in front of thousands of Houston Texans fans and thousands more football connoisseurs soaking up all the highlights, nobody should be surprised that Andre Johnson wasn’t suspended for his actions. If something like this happens again after Sunday, then, yes, Mr. Johnson will find himself riding the pine for a couple of games. But do any of us really think that’s going to happen?
Shutting out the Titans 20-0 sure felt good on Sunday, but it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the fight, the manifestation of fire in a team that seems to fade too quickly over the NFL season, was the most exciting part of the game.