The Washington Redskins believed last night that Pro Bowl guard Tre Johnson would be fined--perhaps as much as $20,000--but not suspended by the NFL for accidentally striking an official during a fight in yesterday's 27-13 playoff win over the Detroit Lions.
Asked whether he's concerned that Johnson will be suspended for next Saturday's conference semifinal against Tampa Bay, Redskins Coach Norv Turner said: "Not from what the official told me. He told me he understood guys were being shoved around. There certainly was not any intention on Tre's part for bumping an official."
Said Redskins fullback Larry Centers: "It's a concern [but] it was incidental contact. I think it would be ridiculous and absurd if he's suspended."
An NFL official said the league likely will review the play on Monday. Johnson was ejected following the third-quarter incident, which began with an altercation between Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson and Lions Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Porcher.
"I'm at the mercy of the court," Tre Johnson said in a postgame radio interview with WJFK.
The Redskins believed the league set a precedent when it fined Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Wayne Gandy $20,000, but didn't suspend him, for a similar incident last weekend in the regular season finale.
Referee Bob McElwee declined to speculate about possible league disciplinary action against Johnson. McElwee told a pool reporter that Johnson was ejected for "impermissible physical contact with the game official."
McElwee suffered microphone problems later in the game, and called Johnson a "clown" during an on-field conversation that was piped over the stadium loudspeaker without his knowledge.
Turner said: "He bumped the official, but he wasn't trying to bump the official. It was like a rugby scrum. The official used good judgment."
Brad Johnson threw an interception to Lions linebacker Stephen Boyd on the opening possession of the second half. As the play ended, Porcher hit Johnson and the two ended up in a scuffle. Johnson managed to throw Porcher to the ground, and later flexed for the crowd on the Redskins' sideline.
"I felt it was a cheap shot," Brad Johnson said. "If anyone should have been thrown out, it should have been their guys. . . . I felt like I won. You saw me on the sideline."
Porcher said: "I was just competing. He threw an interception. The quarterback, he's unprotected, so he threw the first blow. It was basically, he was competing. I was competing, and that's basically all there was to it."
Other Redskins players, including Tre Johnson, came to their quarterback's defense, and Tre Johnson ended up striking back judge Bill Leavy on the top of his head, dislodging his hat, as he was being pulled away from a group of players.
"Two guys took a shot at Brad," Turner said. "Tre's got to keep his composure. He knows the rules. They do fine guys for that. As our guys were coming in, he was dressed and he said, 'I guess I played this one for nothing.' . . . He was wrong. You just can't do that."
Tre Johnson apologized to his mother during his radio interview, and said: "When guys are going after the quarterback, I'm going to help. I didn't see the official."
Said Centers: "I was very upset with it. I think our team can take some good out of that play. That indicates our mentality. We're not going to lie down for anyone."