ATLANTA -- Rather than risk a penalty, or perhaps disqualification from the game, DeAngelo Hall chose not to retaliate when Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens spit in his face during the first quarter of Saturday night's game at the Georgia Dome.
On Sunday, though, the Atlanta Falcons' Pro Bowl cornerback fired back at his rival, recommending that the NFL suspend Owens for his actions.
"I think, for what he did, he deserves more than a fine," Hall said. "The guy has all the money in the world. He's making $10 million or whatever this year. So what's a fine going to mean to him, really? What he did, it was [vulgar], you know? But he's a great player, a great competitor, and what would hurt him a lot more than a fine is making him sit. That would get his attention. And that's what I think the league should do. They need to do something pretty [severe], because there's something wrong with him, and he just can't get away with this kind of stuff."
The league office said Sunday it is investigating the incident.
In a first-round playoff game last season, Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was disqualified from the contest for spitting on Tampa Bay tailback Michael Pittman in the third quarter, and subsequently fined $17,500. Former NFL linebacker Bill Romanowski, playing for the Denver Broncos at the time, was fined $7,500 in 1997 for spitting on San Francisco wide receiver J.J. Stokes.
On the opening series of the Cowboys' 38-28 victory, while Owens and Hall jawed at each other as they left the field following a sack of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, the controversial wide receiver spit at Hall, he confirmed during a postgame interview on the NFL Network.
The incident was not detected by game officials and there was no penalty. Hall said that, as he ran to the sideline, he told the officials Owens had spit on him, but was apprised that no one had seen it.
On his postgame television appearance, Owens said the incident was precipitated because Hall "kept bugging me and getting in my face." He also claimed he apologized to Hall following the game.
Hall was adamant on Sunday that Owens offered no apology. And he noted that the incident occurred on just the sixth play of the game.
"I mean, how much could I have gotten under his skin in just six plays?" Hall said. "Were we talking to each other? Yeah, that's part of my game, and everybody knows that. But after a couple plays, I slapped him on the butt, and just said something like, 'I'm going to be on you all night. This is how it's going to be.' And that was it.
"People make me out to be the bad guy all the time. Look, I play the game hard, but I play the game fair, all right? I'm not the guy out there doing cheap stuff. Like I said [Saturday] night, after what [Owens] did, I lost all respect for the guy."
Hall said that he was raised to believe there are few acts more vulgar or degrading than spitting on another person, and that it is a contemptible act. "Someone does that to you," Hall said, "and it's sort of like they're challenging your manhood or belittling you."
But, as Hall emphasized several times, he chose, given the significance of the game and the importance of him maintaining control, to walk away from Owens and not retaliate. In the playoff game last year, Pittman did go after Taylor when he was spit on, and a brief scuffle ensued. There wasn't even a hint of Saturday's incident, in part because Hall didn't go after Owens.
"You know how hard it is to walk away from something like that?" Hall said. "But I had to take the high road, to be the bigger man, and just let it go. That wasn't easy. And I don't think he should get off easy. It's not like I can call the league or anything and tell them what to do. But I'm going to be watching closely to see what they do to this guy."
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.