Pittsburgh Steelers players slammed Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens after the team’s win over their AFC North rivals Sunday for a T-shirt he wore more than two weeks after a helmet-swinging incident.
Kitchens was seen prior to the game wearing a shirt that blamed the Steelers for inciting a brawl that led to Browns defensive end Myles Garrett removing Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph's helmet and hitting him over the head with it. Kitchens' shirt read, “Pittsburgh Started It.”
“I know that our coach never would have done anything like that,” Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster said after the 20-13 win, according to ESPN. “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.”
David DeCastro, another Steelers offensive lineman added: “I thought it was pretty stupid. 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.”
Kitchens said after the game he would wear the T-shirt again.
“I wore a T-shirt,” he said. “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 also defended Kitchens.
“I don't really have a comment on that. It's just a T-shirt. I've done much worse.”
Some Steelers players were wearing “Free Pouncey” sweatshirts before the game. Garrett was indefinitely suspended over the brawl, Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi got one game and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey got two games. Rudolph was fined about $50,000 for his role.
The Steelers moved to 7-5 with the win, while the Browns fell to 5-7.