The Browns first-year head coach made headlines by sporting a “Pittsburgh Started It” T-shirt. He was photographed wearing it with a fan and the post quickly went viral, so much so that the Steelers locker room caught wind of it.
After the Steelers 20-13 victory on Sunday at Heinz Field, the Pittsburgh players admitted that Kitchens wearing the shirt — which was an obvious reference the the first meeting between the teams that ended in a brawl — was bulletin board material.
“I thought it was pretty stupid,” Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro told ESPN’s Brooke Pryor. “That’s a lot of bulletin board material. I don’t know why you do that as a coach. I just don’t get that. Of course it’s going to motivate us. What are you thinking? It’s just not smart.”
Steelers left guard Ramon Foster agreed.
“I know that our coach never would have done anything like that,” Foster said. “Why throw gas? When you do something like that, you throw your players in harm’s way. He’s not on the field. You throw your players in harm’s way when you do stuff like that with a vengeance. And I hate that for them.”
“You just don’t see that from upper management. We all got to grow as professionals in some sense. I’m glad Coach T (Mike Tomlin) doesn’t do anything like that.”
Freddie Kitchens Defends Wearing Shirt Shading Steelers
Kitchens has spent much of his tenure with the Browns telling his players not to worry about the “fluff” — things that don’t pertain to the game. While it may have just been a T-shirt, Kitchens should have listened to his own advice and known better as someone in his position than to give a rival extra incentive — especially considering the historical struggles the Browns have had with the Steelers.
The Browns have gone 7-35-1 against the Steelers since 1999 and haven’t swept them since 1988. On top of that, Cleveland still hasn’t won on the Steelers home turf since 2003.
Despite all that, Kitchens had no regrets about wearing the shirt.
“I wore a T-shirt,” Kitchens said after the game. “I wore a jacket with it. My daughters wanted me to wear the shirt. I’d wear it again. I put on a jacket, I covered it up, I took a picture, that was simple as that. A T-shirt didn’t cause us to give up 40-yard passes. We were ready to play. That’s the only thing people need to be concerned about. We were ready to play.”
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was asked about Kitchens wearing the shirt, but didn’t seem to think it was out of line.
“I don’t really have a comment on that,” Mayfield said. “It’s just a T-shirt. I’ve done much worse.”
Browns Trolled With ‘Pittsburgh Finished It’ Shirts
The opportunistic Pittsburgh Clothing Co. decided to jump on the opportunity with a shirt trolling the Browns and their head coach.
Considering their track record, Pittsburgh has room to talk a little smack, considering they beat a Cleveland team with an undrafted quarterback and their top two offensive weapons in James Conner and Juju Smith-Schuster out.
For the Browns, there’s always next year.
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