Dropping the Ball

The Dolphins began their preparations Wednesday for the game at St. Louis, but there was some unfinished business that needed to be addressed. From this vantage point, none of it was handled the right way.

The two incidents involved Channing Crowder's fight with Patriots offensive tackle Matt Light, and there was Joey Porter's refusal to come off the field after being instructed to do so by Coach Tony Sparano.

The Crowder-Light fight first.

Both players were disciplined by the NFL in the form of a $15,000 fine. There was no suspension involved, just the fine.

Both players were fined the same amount.

Based on what we saw happen on the field, that's a joke.

How does Light not get fined more -- or even suspended -- when he broke the cardinal rule of fighting by wailing away at Crowder after Crowder had lost his helmet.

Making matters worse, Light was throwing rights while holding Crowder by his dreadlocks. Crowder, for his part, was merely trying to get away, laughing when he finally was able to pull away.

No doubt Crowder wasn't totally innocent in this affair, with reports suggesting he provoked the fight with some trash talking. But we never saw Crowder throw punches, and certainly not with Light's helmet off.

Since when is trash talking or verbal abuse as big a crime as punching a guy without a helmet?

Vonnie Holliday was asked Wednesday for his reaction to the identical fines, and he politely declined to answer, offering only, "I have my own opinion" on the subject.

Of course Holliday couldn't say anything because anybody not on the Patriots roster would say fining the players the same amount was a joke, and he probably would have gotten himself a fine as well.

OK, so we'll say it for Holliday: The decision handed down by the NFL was an absolute joke.

Moving on to Porter, he had apologized on Monday to his teammates and Sparano for his actions on Sunday. Before he appeared in the locker room on Wednesday, the media was told that Porter would issue a statement but not answer any questions.

Here was the statement:

"I apologize for not respecting Coach Sparano's order to come off the field. I wasn't looking at it that way. I was just staying on the field playing football. I wasn't trying to be disrespectful to the team, not obeying his order. We have a great relationship.... It's crazy how y'all got a hold of this and tried to make it seem as if me and him are not good. I listen to all of his orders.

"I wasn't looking at that situation that way. Things got blown out of proportion but I did apologize to Coach, the staff. That's pretty much it."

OK, two major problems here. The "y'all" Porter mentioned was the media, but nobody said, wrote or suggested that Sparano and Porter don't have a good relationship.

So why is Porter taking a shot at the media?

He did it again by suggesting the incident was blown out of proportion. Sorry, but a player disobeying his coach and refusing to get off the field always, always, always is going to make news. It wasn't blown out of proportion.

Since Porter already had apologized to his teammates and coaches, one could argue he didn't really need to make a statement. He could have just told the media the situation had been addressed within team quarters and it would have been left at that.

"It was big," Crowder said of Porter apologizing to his teammates. "We respect him and we know he was sincere about it. You get caught up in the emotion of the game and things happen. He wasn't disrespecting anybody in any manner. He was excited and wanted to be out there to play. We took it for what it was. He apologized. We've got to get on to play the Rams and forget about all that extracurricular stuff."

Porter deserves credit for standing in front of his teammates, not so much for the way he dealt with the media on Wednesday.

Since he did choose to say something, Porter would have done a lot better to just leave it at explaining his side and reiterating the apology, without blaming anybody else for what happened.

It wasn't anybody else's fault, Joey, it was all yours.

We respect his going in front of his teammates and apologizing, but we can't respect his taking unnecessary shots at reporters who were merely doing their job when they brought up what he -- and nobody else -- had done something wrong.

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