At about the 1:10 mark in the above video, you can see the Packers’ Charles Woodson punch the Saints’ David Thomas. (Later, at 1:38, there’s a different view.) Woodson didn’t get ejected for that punch, a fate announcers Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth agreed Woodson was lucky to avoid. One thing Woodson’s almost certain not to avoid, though: a fine. In fact, to us the only question is: how much will Woodson’s fine be?
Our guess: $25,000. There’s precedent: when the Raiders’ Richard Seymour punched Ben Roethlisberger last year, he was docked that amount. Additionally, the NFL lightened the wallets of Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan by $25,000 each after the two brawled during a game last year. Woodson’s punch was, to our eyes, more minor than either of those incidents, but we’re betting Roger Goodell wants consistency when it comes to punch fines (and possibly to send a message to Woodson that he might have avoided ejection, BUT THE LEAGUE IS WATCHING AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT).
Certainly we don’t think the league would fine Woodson any more than $25,000? Sure, fighting rarely does anyone any good, but football is a physical game. Altercations happen. Sometimes, they’ll escalate a bit. As these things go, the Woodson-Thomas incident was minor. Sure, Woodson shouldn’t escape punishment entirely – a punch is a punch – but what he did wasn’t much more than a natural extension of the game itself. Though the fine is inevitable, the NFL has to see that, too.