According to Chris Mortensen, the NFL fined Ochocinco $20,000 for his tongue-in-cheek attempt to alter the outcome of a replay review that was looking to see whether he had two feet in bounds on a play ruled a reception. Ochocinco's use of the word "bribe" in a post-game press conference was said to have played a large role in determining the amount of the fine.
The fact that the NFL levied a fine isn't surprising. This is a league that devotes pages in its rulebook to regulate how much players can celebrate after scoring a touchdown, so that it showed no sense of humor was to be expected. And while the fine is way too high, we understand that the league wanted it to act as a deterrent so the appearance of impropriety won't become an issue again.
But the Commish doth protest too much, methinks. Really, did anyone think this was serious? Were people going to make the connection between a clear Ochocinco joke and a conspiracy to fix games? The only reason we're still talking about this is because the NFL extended the conversation by levying the fine. This story had cycled out of the news by Monday morning. Now it's cycling again and will probably be discussed on sports blogs and on PTI today and on Sunday morning pre-game shows. By fining Ochocinco, the NFL did exactly what it didn't want to do: bring attention to gambling.
As for paying off the fine, Ochocinco should totally send a box full of 20,000 ones to the NFL offices. If he needs help getting that large an amount of bills, I'm sure he can get Pacman Jones' phone number pretty easily.