Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Devil's Advocate: Travis Johnson

OK, so I've been known to side with the unpopular side of many sports related arguments, which of course leads me to many heated "discussions" with those on the other side of the fence. Barry Bonds for instance (heh).

This week I'm introducing a new weekly feature here on the site that I like to call "Devil's Advocate". Each week I'll defend the actions of someone or something that I feel needs defending. Agree with me? Great, let me know. Disagree? Even better. Either way I want to know what you think, because really what good is an argument without others to argue with?

For the first installment of "Devil's Advocate" we'll go to the NFL and the unfortunate incident that dominated the Dolphins/Texans game last Sunday.

If you missed it, Dolphins quarterback Trent Green threw a low (and legal) block on Texans defensive lineman Travis Johnson which resulted in a grade-three concussion of Green after his head collided with Johnson's knee.

The concussion is the second in as many years for Green, and the severity of this one could potentially end Green's career. The controversial part of this story however was Johnson's reaction to Green as he laid unconscious on the field.

After the play was over, Johnson proceeded to stand over the injured quarterback and yell at him, seemingly taunting Green for what he deemed to be a dirty play on the part of the Dolphins signal caller.

Johnson's tirade cost his team a 15-yard penalty and drew the ire of Dolphins players and media members around the country. Interestingly, the NFL decided on Tuesday not to fine Johnson for his actions.

Since Sunday I've heard most people side with Green, defending the legality of the low block and the toughness it took for him to try and spring the ball carrier on the play. What I haven't heard much of is people going after Green for what I look at as a bit of a cheap shot.

While I'm not going to sit here and attack a guy who may never play again, I am going to say that I feel Johnson was well within his right to be angry at Green for going after his knees and nearly ending his career.

Johnson was the 16th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, picked by a Texans out of Florida State. Of course if you're wondering why you haven't heard much from the former first-round draft choice, there's a perfectly good reason.

That reason is injuries. The downfall of many first-rounders over the years, Johnson as been limited in his career due to an assortment of ailments, including a torn calf muscle that sent him to the injured reserve in 2006.

To me it's easy to see why a guy who has struggled with leg injuries through his short career would take major exception with a quarterback basically trying to take him out at the knees. And I find it curious that some people think Johnson should have sucked it up and moved on.

We're talking about a man's livelihood here and I'm never going to fault a player who gets emotional over something like this. It's a violent game and the rule on those type of blocks should be seriously looked at by the NFL. But Johnson, who is listed as questionable for this week's game, should not be vilified for his actions on Sunday.

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