By Tim Graham
Cortland Finnegan has a reputation. A bad reputation. And he loves it.
"We know his history," Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson said.
Johnson will get quite a load of Finnegan on Sunday, when the St. Louis Rams visit Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Finnegan, the former All-Pro cornerback, is an agitator of the highest order. He once declared he aspired to be the NFL's dirtiest player. In a Sporting News poll of anonymous players this year, Finnegan came in third behind Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito.
Finnegan drew mild-mannered Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson into an on-field fistfight in 2010.
Earlier this year, Finnegan riled up Washington Redskins receiver Josh Morgan so badly that Morgan -- after making a monumental catch to set up a potential 47-yard, game-tying field goal with 78 seconds to play -- threw the ball at Finnegan. Morgan was penalized 15 yards, forcing the Redskins to try a 62-yarder. They missed.
Finnegan has been fined repeatedly over the years, most recently for a blatant facemask on Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson in Week Seven.
"You can't be ignorant to that," Stevie Johnson said of Finnegan's tactics. "I've never even heard Andre Johnson talk before, and Finnegan got him to fight.
"It's just the little things he may do to get at men who really have pride, to get in your face or after you make a catch and try to get up, push you back down. You've just got to be smart and know that it's a game. He's just trying to get the win."
Stevie Johnson claimed trash-talking defenders don't phase him or influence his mental preparations for an upcoming game.
"Every week, depending on what happens, you may tick a guy off that's never done it before, and he may turn into that Cortland Finnegan-type guy," Johnson said. "So I just go into it the same way I do every other week.
"If there's an issue, you can't feed into it. He's been known to do those types of things, and I haven't been known to get thrown off by the opponent. I'm cool with whatever.
"I just turn around and laugh and say, 'Oh, well.' I know I'll get another chance. All my frustration comes from myself, when I don't make a play. Another person's not going to get me off my game. It ain't nothing to me. It's football."