In the Buffalo Bills' season-ending 49-21 loss to the New England Patriots, wide receiver Stevie Johnson became the first wide receiver in team history to record back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He did so while catching an 18-yard touchdown pass to put the Bills up 14-0 in the first quarter.
After the score, Johnson lifted his jersey to reveal a "Happy New Year!" message written on his t-shirt underneath. The gesture drew a 15-yard penalty, and head coach Chan Gailey immediately benched his star receiver. Johnson didn't play another snap for the rest of the game.
On one hand, Johnson's celebration was totally innocuous. On the other hand, it broke a rule that Johnson should've had a clear grasp of, as he did a similar celebration last season in Cincinnati that drew a $5,000 fine.
This is Johnson in a nutshell, and a perfect microcosm of what he's been for two seasons: a very good wide receiver distracted just enough by the pomp and frivolity of the sport to be truly great. This was Johnson's final game under his rookie contract - he's scheduled for unrestricted free agency this off-season - and clearly, a benching isn't the best way to go out for either Johnson or the team. This is going to be a fascinating story line to follow for a couple of months.
What say you? Was Johnson's benching warranted? Should Gailey have put him back in before game's end? Is Johnson's career in Buffalo over? Should it be? We know this is what everyone wants to talk about, so have at it!