NFL Throws Down Discipline Chiefs-Browns Sideline Altercation

Getty Browns safety Ronnie Harrison

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he NFL has administered discipline for the Chiefs-Browns sideline altercation that took place in Week 1. The league has fined safety Ronnie Harrison $12,128 for the shoving match with Kansas City running backs coach Greg Lewis. Meanwhile, Lewis has received a warning from the league that any subsequent violations of Rule 13, Article 8 will result in discipline, according to NFL Media’ Tom Pelissero. Pelissero also noted that when the entire incident was reviewed by the league, the league did not believe Lewis’ actions weren’t worthy of a fine.

“In a memo to clubs this week, the NFL reiterated that rule, which states: ‘Non-player personnel of a club (e.g., management personnel, coaches, trainers, equipment personnel) are prohibited from making unnecessary physical contact with or directing abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures at opponents, game officials, or representatives of the League. Penalty: Loss of 15 yards’,” Pelissero wrote.

“The memo added: ‘As a reminder, club personnel attempting to address an issue involving players and/or staff from an opposing team should not make unnecessary physical contact with any individual who is not a member of his or her own club. Please contact a member of the Football Operations department with any questions.'”

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What This Means

This information relayed from Pelissero is contradictory. The memo sent to clubs from the league states that non-player personnel are prohibited from making unnecessary physical contact with opponents. They also issued a warning to Lewis saying that any “subsequent” violations of Rule 13, Article 8 would result in discipline. So basically what they are saying — Lewis is off the hook this time, but next time he will be fined. However, Harrison will be disciplined for his first offense.

That seems unfair.

Early in the Chiefs’ 33-29 victory in Week 1 over the Browns an ejection took place. After a play along Kansas City’s sideline, Harrison was stepping on a Chiefs player, which prompted Lewis to push Harrison aside so his player could get off the ground. Harrison reacted to the push by shoving the Kansas City assistant coach around the throat, which prompted the officials — after initially calling a penalty on the Chiefs’ sideline — to call offsetting penalties while also electing to eject Harrison from the game.


Conflicting Viewpoints

After the game, head coach Andy Reid was asked about the altercation and gave his side of the story.

“Yeah, so the fellow that was involved with it came over and he was on the chest of our player and that’s what happened,” Reid explained. “So, he (Lewis) was trying to get him (Harrison) off and he didn’t want to get off, so he kind of just lifted him a little bit and then he got hit. But he was there to help get that fellow who was leaning on our guy. That’s why there was a penalty, right? So, the officials fixed it, which I thought was important. You don’t do that on our sideline, you don’t do that to our guys, bottom line.”

However, the opposing sideline felt justice had not been fully served by the officiating crew.

“I saw [Harrison],” Cleveland All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett Garrett said after the game, per the Akron Beacon Journal. “He was tangled up. I saw him get pushed and he pushed. And I was like, ‘We don’t need any of that for our team. We’ve got to be smarter than that.’

“But [Lewis] should get the treatment our player should get. He should be tossed out of the game just like Ronnie.”

Another Browns player that spoke similarly to Garrett on the subject was starting center and NFLPA president, JC Tretter. Tretter seemed baffled by the idea that Harrison was penalized and removed from the game while Lewis remained on the sideline.

“We can’t have opposing coaches putting their hands on opposing players,” Tretter said, via Ben Axelrod of WKYC Studios.

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

Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski was also asked about the scuffle and injected his perspective into the conversation.

“I do think that any contact that came from Ronnie was incidental,’’ Stefanski said, per Cleveland.com. “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.’’

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