As I’m sure most of you have already seen, the Bears Saints game this past Sunday was chippy to say the least. This is because of the, now viral, altercation between Bears WR Javon Wims and Saints DB C.J. Garnder-Johnson early in the 3rd quarter. At first glance this fight seemed to be completely on Wims. After all, he was the one who hit Gardener-Johnson with a cheap shot while Johnson stood there unfazed.
Wims was the attacker and, justifiably, was thrown out of the game. This left many Bears fans angry at Wims. Many wondered how he could have been so careless and stupid, and how he could have such little regard for his teammates. Granted, what Wims did was both careless and stupid. It resulted in a 15 yard penalty for the Bears that completely changed the momentum of the game. I think Ravens Receiver Dez Bryant said it best when he tweeted "Javon wims.. you are great player bro but that wasn’t cool.. regardless of the situation.. you had time to think and you still did that..". (@DezBryant on Twitter).
I agree that throwing punches was not the right course of action, but I think it is still important to look at the situation.
Many believed early on that Garnder-Johnson was innocent in the fight, but I'm here to tell you that he was far from innocent. The hostility between the Bears and Johnson started when Johnson was seen sticking his fingers into the face of Bears receiver Anthony Miller.
This caused Miller to push Johnson away from him but it seemingly stopped there until the fight broke out with Wims. This wasn't the only thing that Johnson did to provoke a fight though. Videos later emerged of Johnson ripping out the mouth guard of Wims and throwing it on the ground and Wims also claimed that Johnson spit on him (a claim which Johnson later denied but given his actions seen on video, I think it's fair to be skeptical of this denial). This isn't even the first game that Johnson has come into controversy with the Bears.
In the Bears Saints game last season Johnson was seen along with Saints CB Eli Apple mocking Bears RB Tarik Cohen for being short (ironically right after Cohen ran right through Johnson). Johnson also came into controversy earlier this season when he got into a fight with Saints Star Receiver Mike Thomas during practice. The fight resulted in Johnson getting punched by Thomas and Thomas was consequentially held out of the Saints week 5 game against the Chargers.
Now these actions do not fully justify the response from Wims. Again, I do not condone players punching other players and I think there is no room for that in football, but it is a lot more understandable given the circumstances. Even the previously mentioned Dez Bryant came around to Javon's side tweeting out "Now it makes 100% sense.. I would have reacted just like that or worse" after being told that Johnson spit on Wims.
Wims was later suspended by the NFL for two games without pay, a suspension that I think is pretty fair all things considered, but the fact that Gardner-Johnson was not punished in any way (at least not that we know of) is a disgrace. His actions of spitting on Wims is not only a dirty move but presumably a clear violation of the NFL's COVID protocols. Even if it can't be proven that he did spit on Wims, it was recorded on video that he stuck his fingers in Miller's face and grabbed Wims's mouth guard, both of which are not ideal given the situation with COVID. Wims should not have taken it as far as he did, but it is hard to blame him for sticking up for his teammates and getting mad after Johnson acted how he did.