Horn faces possible suspension by NFL
WR's TD celebration 'selfish,' says Haslett
Tuesday December 16, 2003
By Brian Allee-Walsh
Flamboyant Saints wide receiver Joe Horn appears to have reached out and touched a nerve with NFL and team officials.
Horn's premeditated end zone "cell-abration" following the second of his four touchdown catches in Sunday night's 45-7 victory against the New York Giants at the Superdome is under review by the league office, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Monday.
Horn's antics also are a source of concern for Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, who said he is taking the matter seriously.
Horn could be facing a stiff fine and suspension from the league.
"Obviously, we're not too happy about it because it cost us a 15-yard penalty and it came at a critical time in the game," Loomis said. "I suspect the league will do something. We'll see what they do before we respond.
"But there definitely should be and will be a consequence. It was creative; I'll give Joe that. But I don't like it when guys do things to focus attention on themselves in a team sport. Personally, I think it was too much of 'Hey, look at me!' "
After catching a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Aaron Brooks in the second quarter, Michael Lewis handed Horn a cell phone that was retrieved from under the goal-post padding in the Girod Street end zone. Horn then appeared to make a call.
Officials assessed Horn a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, causing the Saints to kick off from their 15-yard line.
"The fans pay our salaries, not the league office that fines us $10,000 because we do stuff like this," Horn said after the game. "Ask the fans. I guarantee you 85 to 90 percent will say they loved it. It's not hurting anybody. I was just trying to bring excitement to the nation watching Sunday night football. I'm sure they enjoyed it at my expense, but it was worth it."
Horn was rabbit-hunting Monday in Mississippi and could not be reached for comment. Saints players normally get Mondays off after a victory.
"The thing that bothers me was he put himself before the football team," Saints coach Jim Haslett said Monday. "To me, that's selfish."
Aiello said Horn's antics violated league rules that deal with taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct.
In October 2002, following the "Sharpie incident" involving San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens, a memorandum was dispatched league-wide to club presidents, general managers, coaches and players advising them that foreign objects could not be taken on the field that "interfere with the orderly conduct of an NFL game."
"The league has already taken a stand," Aiello said. "The officials threw a flag. But the incident is under review, and I expect we'll have a decision later this week."
Horn's actions provoked mixed reactions nationally and in the Saints locker room. Headlines in New York screamed: "Obscene Call" and "Call It Off."
"I have great respect for Joe Horn," Giants defensive end Michael Strahan said. "But that's not original. Terrell Owens already beat everybody to that stuff. That was bush league."
"Joe didn't get in anybody's face," Saints cornerback Ashley Ambrose said. "He didn't show anybody up. He didn't do anything vulgar. I don't think he should be fined."
Lewis, who helped Horn locate the phone under the padding, also could be fined as an accomplice.
"We talked about doing it last week," Lewis said. "We were going to do the phone thing in both end zones. This was Joe's thing. He's the most exciting person on the team when it comes to scoring in the end zone. We like what Joe does in the end zone."
Horn was fined $5,000 by the league for his end zone antics following a touchdown catch against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 19 at the Georgia Dome.
"What Joe did Sunday night wasn't malicious on his part," said Horn's agent, Ralph Vitolo. "He didn't hurt anybody or taunt anybody. He just tried to get the blood flowing for his team.
"It's not something I would recommend because he's probably going to be fined. I don't tell him what to do. I just file the appeal when they fine his butt."
Horn faces possible suspension by NFL
Joe is wrong isn\'t he?
I mean even among those of us here (and I\'m not going to say what I think about it), there are more than 10 to 15 percent who thought the phone think was a _____-move. Furthermore, there are all the fans of the Giants (maybe we don\'t care because they bite anyway) who are not happy about the phone call. That is, even if Joe is right (and he is) that the league doesn\'t pay his salary, it is the league\'s responsibility to make sure the NFL is a product the fans will want - thus, they do have a reason to put an end to shinnanigans like Horn\'s.
However, there is no reason to suspend him for such things. The fine should be sufficient. That is, if a player wants to pay the fine to do something he thinks is cool, let him. Suspensions are for people who do things that harm others, not things that harm peoples\' entertainment value!
[Edited on 16/12/2003 by JOESAM2002]
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