NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A few months late, Tennessee fullback Ahmard Hall says referee Ed Hochuli apologized to him for the holding call on Jan. 3 at Seattle that wiped out a 62-yard gain by Chris Johnson.
The running back still became only the sixth man in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards, finishing with 2,006. But that 62-yard run in the fourth quarter of the regular season finale would have put the All Pro close enough the Titans would have kept handing him the ball to chase Eric Dickerson's NFL rushing record of 2,105 yards.
Hall said Monday that Hochuli apologized to both himself, Johnson and the entire team during the referee's four days spent working the Titans' training camp between Aug. 4 and 7.
The fullback first told The Tennessean about the apology before the Titans' preseason opening 20-18 loss Saturday night.
The fullback said it was good to get closure on the whole situation.
Not that it helps now.
"I really don't care about the 'I'm sorry.' That moment could have been a real, real historic moment. CJ probably would've been 30, 40 yards away from the record, and that was taken away from us. The sorry really doesn't mean anything to me. All I can do is move on and try to get the record this year," Hall said.
At the time, Johnson was about to start celebrating in the back of the end zone before the Titans realized Hochuli had thrown a penalty flag near the line of scrimmage. Hochuli later called it a blatant hold by Hall on his lead block against linebacker David Hawthorne. But he told Hall he was graded down for that call, costing him the chance to work a playoff game.
If the run had counted, Johnson would have had 182 of the 234 yards he needed to set the season rushing record.
"I do give him credit for saying he made a mistake," said Hall, a former Marine. "Some people know they're dead wrong and refuse to say they're wrong. He's a special guy for admitting he made the wrong call and letting everybody know that and being open with that.
Notes: Cornerback Cortland Finnegan (groin) returned to individual drills Monday before watching the rest of practice, but it was his first work in a week. Cornerback Ryan Mouton, who had an interception in the loss to Seattle, sat out with soreness along with safety Vincent Fuller (right knee) and linebacker Stanford Keglar (hamstring). Defensive end and top draft pick Derrick Morgan (left calf) also watched. ... Defensive tackle Tony Brown, who remains on the physically unable to perform list as he recovers from surgery on his right knee, said he feels ready to return and is waiting to be cleared.