Helmetless Brawling Draws Lighter Fine Than Sombrero Wearing

There's bound to be blowback for the seemingly light and suspension free punishment levied against Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan for their vicious brawl on Sunday in the Titans-Texans game. Each participant was fined $25,000.

Contrasting that to Chad Ochocinco being slapped with a $30,000 for wearing a sombrero and decorative poncho on the bench after scoring a touchdown last year is a bit glib, given that that fine was one of an escalating series of moves by Ocho to flout NFL uniform guidelines and other rules of conduct.

Nevertheless, this incident was not exactly a first offense for Johnson or Finnegan either. Johnson was fined $7,500 for an incident last year with Finnegan. And while Finnegan has been a regular target of fines this season, his team argued that he didn't throw a punch during the altercation, and hence should not receive a heftier fine or suspension. Apparently the reasoning worked.

The amount falls in line with Richard Seymour's sanction last week for punching Ben Roethlisberger. What it doesn't measure up with is the trio of fines enforced in October against Brandon Meriweather, James Harrison and Dunta Robinson at the beginning of the helmet hit crisis.

The $25,000 amount was the minimum the league could impose for fighting given each player's history with the league office. League officials could and arguably should have been more severe, seeing as how violent fights have now occurred twice in two weeks in the NFL. Of course, the media is not making the epidemic of fights a safety issue that could prove a public relations nightmare to the league the way helmet hits have, which should help to explain what the fines for fighting have not been inflated for an obvious effect to assuage media pressure.

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