Chicago Bears’ Javon Wims gets a 2-game suspension for punching the Saints’ C.J. Gardner-Johnson

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Head coach Matt Nagy talks with Javon Wims #83 of the Chicago Bears after he was disqualified from the game against the New Orleans Saints in the second half at Soldier Field on November 01, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images/TNS)

Chicago Bears wide receiver Javon Wims has been suspended for two games without pay for punching New Orleans Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson during the Week 8 game at Soldier Field.

In the third quarter of the Bears’ 26-23 overtime loss Sunday, Wims walked up behind Gardner-Johnson, appeared to pull at something near his neck and then punched him in the face mask. As Gardner-Johnson stood stunned, Wims hit him again before Gardner-Johnson pushed back.

Teammates and officials broke up the fight, and Wims was disqualified from the rest of the game.

The NFL said Wims was suspended for violating rules prohibiting striking or swinging at the head, neck or face of an opponent with the wrist, arm, elbow or hand, as well as a rule that prohibits bad sportsmanship.

He will be eligible to return to the Bears on Nov. 17 after their Monday night game against the Minnesota Vikings. The Bears have a bye the following week.

Wims can appeal the suspension within three business days.

Wims didn’t speak to reporters after the game Sunday or during Monday’s Zoom sessions with the media, but NFL Network reported that he told league officials Gardner-Johnson spit on him and tore his mouthpiece from him. Video from earlier in the third quarter confirms the latter, showing Gardner-Johnson ripping off the mouthpiece after brief words with Wims.

Gardner-Johnson denied he spit on Wims during an interview with New Orleans media Monday.

“There’s a lot of he say, he say,” Gardner-Johnson said. “Ain’t nothing happened. Ain’t nobody get spit on.”

Gardner-Johnson added that if Wims acted out, “that’s on him.” He said he didn’t plan to change his style despite the incident, even if he is gathering a reputation as an instigator.

Gardner-Johnson mocked Tarik Cohen’s height and drew heated words from Allen Robinson in the Saints-Bears meeting last year. And teammate Michael Thomas reportedly punched him at practice a few weeks ago.

“I ain’t do nothing,” Gardner-Johnson said when asked about that reputation. “I’m innocent. I play football. Like, it’s football. Guys get chippy out there. I don’t know what to tell you. I wouldn’t be here today if I’m not me.

“I’m not going to change for nobody. I’m out there playing football. So if they go farther than that, I don’t want to get in between with that. It has nothing to do with me.”

Bears coach Matt Nagy said Monday he spoke with Wims, but he declined to relay details of the conversation or say whether the Bears plan to take their own disciplinary measures in addition to those of the league.

“He knows and understands,” Nagy said. “He was apologetic and knows that no matter what, you can’t do what he did.”

On the Bears postgame radio show on WBBM-AM 780, Nagy called Wims’ actions “selfish” and “irresponsible.” Nagy has indicated twice since then that he thinks the incident is out of character, though Wims also fought with then-Bears cornerback Prince Amukamara during a 2019 practice.

“You never want that to happen ever from nobody on your team,” Nagy said. “It’s an emotional game and people get into it, but again, just knowing who Javon Wims is as a person, a high-character guy, that’s the part that I thought was surprising.”

Wims remained silent on social media Monday, while Gardner-Johnson posted on his Instagram story that Wims “punch like a female” and called it a “cheap shot.”

Bears players Darnell Mooney and Robert Quinn said they didn’t know what happened to provoke the fight, but they offered their support to Wims.

“At the end of the day, we just want to make sure our teammates are doing all right,” Quinn said. “I didn’t know what personally went on, but you protect your brother no matter what and we figure it out after that.”

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