On Saturday, we learned that the NFL has fined Cleveland Browns safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. $12,128 after a sideline scuffle with Kansas City Chiefs running backs coach Greg Lewis during Kansas City’s 33-29 defeat of the Browns last Sunday.
It happened during a first-and-10 play on the Chiefs’ opening Chiefs offensive drive. After an 11-yard gain, Harrison and linebacker Mack Wilson had teamed up to tackle Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in front of the Kansas City bench. After the whistle, it appeared that Harrison was standing on Edwards-Helaire, who was on his back. Lewis intervened — which is against NFL rules — trying to shove Harrison away. Harrison retaliated with a punch at Lewis’ face. That, of course, is also against league rules.
At first, officials first called an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on “the Kansas City bench.” But after the officiating crew had stepped off that penalty, it appeared that their superiors watching in New York had intervened; initital television replays clearly showed Harrison taking a swing at Lewis. Another penalty was called on Harrison, creating offsetting penalties — wiping out the play — and the Cleveland player was ejected from the game.
“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,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid after the game. “So, [Lewis] was trying to get [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?
“The officials fixed it, which I thought was important. You don’t do that on our sideline — [and] you don’t do that to our guys, bottom line.”
It now appears that the NFL largely agrees with Reid’s viewpoint about what happened. Lewis wasn’t fined for his part in the incident — but according to a report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the league did issue him a warning.
The NFL fined #Browns safety Ronnie Harrison $12,128 for last week's shoving match with #Chiefs RBs coach Greg Lewis, who wasn't fined by the league but received a warning that any subsequent violations will result in discipline, according to team and league sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 18, 2021
So according to the league, here’s how the math works out: a coach putting his hands on an opposing player is bad. A player punching an opposing coach — even when the coach started it — is very bad. Very bad is greater than bad.
“He was going down to help our guy, but the other guy wouldn’t do anything,” Reid told reporters after being asked if one of his coaches had ever been involved in such an incident. “So it would be like... [are] you keeping this up? I might come down there.”