CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns safety Ronnie Harrison was fined more than $12,000 for the shoving incident with an opposing coach that found him ejected from last week's game against the Kansas City Chiefs while the coach who was also involved received no punishment.
Last Sunday, after making a tackle on running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire near the Chiefs' sideline, Harrison attempted to step over the running back, getting caught on his leg. While Harrison was attempting to step over Edwards-Helaire, the Chief's sideline attempted to separate the two and Chiefs running backs coach Greg Lewis on the opposing sideline pushed the Browns safety.
The shove prompted Harrison to react, shoving the coach back. Refs in the game threw a flag and called unsportsmanlike conduct on the Chiefs sideline, but soon after flagged Harrison as well, disqualifying him from the contest.
Following the game, players and coaches on the Browns commented on the incident, refusing to make excuses for Harrison's actions but also noting that Lewis should not have gotten involved either.
Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer joked that he wouldn't imagine touching Harrison based off his size alone, but also would not condone the safety's role in the incident.
“I wouldn't hit Ronnie Harrison, have you seen the size of that guy?" Priefer said. "Ronnie was in a tough spot. Obviously, none of us condone what he did. I've never been in a position where I would push a player ever. I don't care how mad you are at a guy. That was kind of a heat of the moment thing. Unfortunately, Ronnie got thrown out, and that hurt us. We talk about that a lot—being a smart, tough, accountable and resilient team and being a football player that you can play for the Cleveland Browns if you are that type of guy. I know Ronnie is that type of guy. I am sure he regrets that decision. You just have to move on and hope it doesn't happen again.”
Browns center and NFLPA president JC Tretter also commented on the situation, refusing to make excuses for Harrison's actions but also making it clear that Lewis, like any coach who were to put their hands on a player, should have been held accountable as well.
"Obviously Ronnie can't retaliate, you can't be the second one in those incidents, you're always going to get called for that—but we can't have opposing coaches putting their hands on opposing players. We can't have that," Tretter said. "So 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. I don't think there's any room for that in this league."
But Lewis was not held to the same standard as Harrison as he remained in the game after Harrison was ejected and was not fined for the incident. Harrison was fined a total of $12,128.
Instead, a memo was issued by the league and sent to all 32 NFL teams following the incident as a reminder to coaches that they can't put their hands on opposing players.
“There was a memo that went out to the entire league just reminding people and staff members of how you have to conduct yourself on the sideline,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said Friday.
The memo, a warning to Lewis, serves as the only acknowledgment of Lewis' actions against Harrison from the NFL.
News 5 reached out to the NFL for a statement regarding the incident and subsequent officiating decision earlier in the week and did not hear back.
Camryn Justice is a digital content producer at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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