Browns-Sideline Skirmish Football

In this Nov. 29, 2020, photo, Cleveland Browns’ safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. is pictured during warm-ups before a game against the Jaguars in Jacksonville, Fla.

CLEVELAND – Browns’ center JC Tretter believes Kansas City assistant coach Greg Lewis should be disciplined by the NFL for his role in a sideline skirmish with Cleveland safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. on Sunday.

Harrison was ejected from Cleveland’s 33-29 loss in the 1st quarter after he forcefully pushed Lewis, who shoved the Browns’ safety after coming over to help Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

Tretter, the NFL players’ union president, didn’t condone Harrison’s behavior, but said Lewis needs to be held accountable by the league for his actions.

“I expect that the coach gets held to the same standard – if not a higher standard – than Ronnie,” Tretter said on a Zoom call. “Being the first one in there and being a coach, putting his hands on an opposing player. I don’t think there’s any room for that in this league.”

An NFL spokesman said the incident is under review and that Harrison will not be suspended. It’s likely he’ll be fined.

After an 11-yard gain, Edwards-Helaire was tackled on Kansas City’s sideline by Harrison and linebacker Mack Wilson. With Edwards-Helaire on the ground, Harrison was standing over him and appeared to step on the running back when Lewis, the team’s running backs coach, came over and shoved Harrison.

Cleveland’s safety fired back with a high shove to Lewis’ neck area that knocked his headset askew.

Kansas City’s bench was initially called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Following a review, the officials tossed Harrison, the dismissal costing the Browns one of their best defensive players. Lewis was allowed to stay on the sideline, which didn’t sit well with the Browns.

“He should get the same treatment that our players get,” said All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett. “He should be tossed out of the game just like Ronnie.”

Whatever transpired, Browns’ Coach Kevin Stefanski said Harrison needed to show better judgment.

“It’s the oldest thing in football: The game officials always see the second guy,” Stefanski said. “And Ronnie has to show some poise there and not retaliate.”

Chiefs’ Coach Andy Reid was not asked about possible discipline for Lewis on Monday. Following the game, he defended his assistant.

“You don’t do that on our sideline, you don’t do that to our guys, bottom line,” he said.

Tretter saw it differently, with both Harrison and Lewis being wrong.

“Obviously, Ronnie can’t retaliate,” he said. “But we can’t have opposing coaches putting their hands on opposing players. We can’t have that.”

Tretter pointed out that coaches are no longer allowed to go on the field for injuries because of an incident between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals a few years back. He added the league’s emphasis on the taunting rule this season is designed to minimize the chance for retaliation.

Stefanski wasn’t pointing fingers, but he doesn’t think Harrison intended to step on Edwards-Helaire.

“I do think that any contact that came from Ronnie was incidental,’’ Stefanski said. “If you watch the tape, it’s pretty obvious that he’s getting collisioned as he’s trying to get off of their boundary. But that doesn’t excuse him from retaliating. You can’t do that. That’s something we all know, that the game officials will see the second guy not the first guy.’’

NFL NOTE

Detroit Lions cornerback Jeff Okudah has a season-ending Achilles tendon injury, the team announced Monday.

“He will be out for the rest of the year,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “I hate it for him, and I hate it for us as a team because he has really been coming around.”

Okudah was hurt in the fourth quarter Sunday as the San Francisco 49ers held on to win 41-33 against the Lions.

“As someone who was injured a lot as a player, I know what it is like to be in the training room again,” Campbell said. “You have to be careful to not let it get you down. His whole focus after the surgery has to be getting ready for 2022.”

Detroit drafted the Ohio State star with the No. 3 overall pick last year and injuries limited him to nine games as a rookie. Okudah appeared to make improvements during camp, but he had a rough game in Week 1.

Lions secondary coach Aubrey Pleasant was seen shouting at the 22-year-old Okudah, who did as much talking as listening, on the sideline. Later in the game, Okudah fell in coverage on a 79-yard TD catch.

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