Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson has been fined $10,000 by the NFL for mimicking shooting himself in the thigh during a touchdown celebration last weekend that mocked New York Jets receiver Plaxico Burress. A person familiar with the league's disciplinary action informed The Associated Press of the fine on Wednesday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the league has not made an announcement.
Johnson declined to confirm whether he had been punished except to say he had an overnight courier envelope from the NFL waiting for him at his locker when he arrived for practice. Johnson left the envelope unopened because he expected to find inside formal notification of his fine. Johnson said he was done discussing the celebration — and the national criticism he received as a result of it — and is instead focusing on looking forward to helping the Bills (5-6) end a four-game slump on Sunday when they host the Tennessee Titans (6-5).
"If I do, I get fined. But we've got to move on," he said.
"It's the Tennessee Titans. I'm not really worried about a fine right now. It's part of the game. People get fined. But we've still got a football game on Sunday."
The Bills' leading receiver got into hot water immediately after putting Buffalo up 14-7 by catching a 5-yard touchdown pass with a little over two minutes left in the second quarter of a 28-24 loss at the Jets on Sunday. Using his hands as pistols, Johnson pretended to shoot himself in the thigh, a move that was directed at Burress, who wound up serving 20 months in prison for shooting himself in a New York City nightclub in 2008.
Johnson didn't stop there. He then imitated a jet in flight before crashing to the turf. That proved particularly costly, because he was flagged 15 yards for going to the ground. The Bills blew a squib kick on the next kickoff, leading to the Jets capitalizing on a short field to tie the score a little over a minute later. Johnson said he was unaware he would be penalized, and added he regrets making fun of Burress and has apologized to the Jets player. He also said he plans to stop performing touchdown celebrations.
This isn't the first time Johnson has been fined for his over-exuberance. Last year, he shelled out a combined $15,000 after twice being fined by the NFL. He was fined $10,000 for falling back to the ground after pretending to shoot off a rifle — mimicking what the Patriots' Minutemen do following a New England score — in a 38-30 loss at New England on Sept. 26. Eight weeks later, he was fined $5,000 for showing off the message — "Why So Serious?" — Johnson had written in black marker on his T-shirt after scoring the first of three touchdown catches in a 49-31 win at Cincinnati.
Though he finished with eight catches for 75 yards, Johnson didn't help his cause against the Jets on Sunday. He had two passes go off his hands — including one in which he was wide-open over the middle at the Jets 20-yard line — on the Bills last drive in the final minute.