Shutdown Corner - NFL

After being voted the sixth-dirtiest player in the NFL by his peers this summer, Cortland Finnegan(notes) openly expressed his desire to be known as the dirtiest. His fight on Sunday against the Houston Texans' Andre Johnson(notes) may help his cause.

Johnson and Finnegan got into a rare NFL fistfight on Sunday after the Titans' cornerback shoved his hands in Johnson's facemask during the start of a route. Johnson tore off his opponent's helmet, threw a few punches and had his own helmet torn off before the two engaged in some more fisticuffs. Johnson landed a few haymakers before the two were separated. Both players were ejected and should expect heavy fines and possible suspensions:


TKO, Johnson.

Though it looks like Johnson started it, Finnegan was making dirty moves all game. He's late on hits, adds some extra mustard on tackles and gets in every possible hand-check before Johnson can go 5 yards. Finally, the Texans' receiver snapped.

There's a fine line between dirty and punk. Hines Ward(notes) is dirty. Cortland Finnegan is a punk. Watch the way he's still jawing after Johnson beat him down like Pacquiao did Margarito.

Finnegan is like the fan who yells derogatory things at players from the stands because he knows he'll never face retaliation. He pokes and prods and rips off guys' helmets, based on the assumption that the players he chooses to mess with won't take a swing at him in retaliation. It's easy to mess with Andre Johnson because Andre Johnson isn't going to fight back 99 times out of 100. On Sunday, he did.

Other than maybe a few members of the Finnegan family, I'd imagine that everyone watching that encounter was pulling for Johnson. Notice how none of the Titans who belatedly run into the fracas went after the Texans' receiver, they all went to calm down Finnegan. They had his back out of obligation, not desire.

Not that Johnson was right to fight back. He lost his cool and will pay the price, both financially and on the field. But every now and then a bully needs his comeuppance. Good for you, Andre.

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