When we initially posted that new-favorite Bengals player Andrew Whitworth and big-time turd John Henderson were fined the exact amount, and that Henderson wasn't suspended, I really didn't know what to say.
First off, I'm not exactly sure why the penalties worked out the way they did. When two personal fouls are called during a play, typically the penalties off-set and the down is replayed. I get that. Perhaps the personal fouls were called during the play, in the process of being called while Houshmandzadeh was going out of bounds. If that were the case, then it makes sense. However, not one person has supported this -- at least from what I've read and heard -- and it's generally concluded that the flags came out after the play. On the other hand, if you watched the game via television, you'll note that one referee's hat was already off (which either means it was pushed off, or that the hat was thrown because of multiple fouls) when the camera panned to the fight. In truth, I don't know. CBS' (and Fox and ESPN) have generally reduced their replays unless it supports their stories of the game, a mega-superstar makes a good (or really bad) play, or the play being replayed is a big momentum play. Otherwise, it interferes with their mindless bull crap that generally has little to do with the game while emphasizing the superstars (I'm looking at you, Mike Tirico)
Anyway, it's another one of those questionable calls -- similar to the Justin Smith sack against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2006 (no, I'm still not over that!). That's kind of where I left that.
However, the punishment for both players is hardly fair. Andrew Whitworth is doing his best not to have his career cut short at that moment. In reaction, he defends himself. Fair enough, so thinks the man with common sense. Perhaps Chancellor Goodell (yes, we're going back to calling him that) hasn't had his eye balls threatened; it's only fair to assume he doesn't know the risk having beefy hands pushing inside eye sockets.
After Sunday, most assumed that Whitworth would get fined simply because he threw a punch -- an automatic ejection and fine, we inconsistently observe. We also assumed that John Henderson would be fined heavily and be forced to face a suspicions of at least one game; if not several. Some people were reminded of the Albert Haynesworth stomp. Both were fined $10,000 -- and that was that.
Justin Tuck was fined $7,500 for a perfect tackle on Brooks Bollinger that was called a personal foul. No, it wasn't roughing the passer. The referee said Tuck was “tackling the quarterback with his full body weight." Not 90% of his body weight, his "full body weight".
On Friday, the fine was rescinded because Chancellor Goodell didn't see the play until Friday. Which obviously begs the question if he saw the circumstances against Whitworth. If he did, then palewood is right. This sets a precedence that you can gorge any man's eyes on the field, lose a few bucks, and be known as a legit turd. If he didn't see it, then why is he allowing the league to become pussified?
It would be wonderful if an explanation were given from the Chancellor's office; hopefully presented by the team's public relations office, during a Marvin Lewis press conference, or the team's beat writers. Though I don't have much confidence that we'll ever know -- Whitworth included.
"I'm embarrassed for the league that I play in that they could come to that decision after that guy physically attacked me," Whitworth said from Louisiana, where he is spending the Bengals bye week. "For them to give us the same penalty is absolutely unbelievable. The guy had two infractions on the play and that's not even counting the play before when he threw a punch at me. I felt like the NFL turned their back on me today."
"What I don't understand is I represent the league the way they want players to represent the league," Whitworth said. "I'm in the community every Tuesday. I'm never late for meetings and for practices and I do what my coaches tell me. And here I can't even get any protection on the field from the league when a guy violently attacks me? I'm sickened."
"There were guys on their team that texted me after the game that said they were sorry and he was wrong," Whitworth said. "I didn't hear their head coach defend him. I didn't hear his owners defend him."
Agent Steve Colson said that Bengals ownership as well as head coach Marvin Lewis spoke to the league in Whitworth's defense.
"I don't know who is watching tape in the NFL office, but if they're trying to send a message, they're sending it to the wrong kid," Colson said. "I'm appalled. It's horrible."
Whitworth said his teammates were just trying to protect him.
"They didn't want to get in a fight. That wasn't their intent," Whitworth said. "But when they saw what the guy was doing to me, they were trying to help me get out of there."
In the end, Whitworth is still a winner in my view (so is Henderson, but at this point, we don't really care). After that, Whitworth became an instant hero on the team (especially considering his fired up, have pride in yourself speech on Saturday). My favorite player with the Bengals has been Willie Anderson for a long time until he was unceremoniously cut like an undrafted rookie. Now, I think I found my newest favorite Bengals player.