Emotions will surely be running high when the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers play for the second time in three weeks on Sunday, especially after a full-fledged brawl concluded their last meeting.
Thanks to Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, those emotions will probably be running even higher.
As ESPN reported Saturday, Kitchens was spotted posing with a “Pittsburgh Started It” T-shirt ahead of this weekend’s AFC North rematch — an obvious reference to the Week 11 fight that saw three players suspended and more than $730,000 issued in fines. A picture of Kitchens wearing the shirt surfaced on the Instagram of the shirt’s Cleveland-based design company, and a Browns spokesperson has since confirmed to ESPN Kitchens wore it, saying he received it from his daughters “as a joke” and wore it to the movies, not intending anyone to catch a glimpse of it.
In light of the Steelers-Browns brawl, the team added that Kitchens “understands it’s not a good look.” This comes just weeks after one of Kitchens’ players, defensive end Myles Garrett, drew an indefinite suspension for hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph over the head with a helmet. While the “Pittsburgh Started It” slogan may have been printed out of jest, Garrett himself has alleged that Rudolph incited what turned into a mass scuffle, telling the NFL his opponent used a racial slur while the two were entangled. The league has since said it , but both teams are still experiencing fallout from the fight, with Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey suspended through this week’s rematch.
Pittsburgh has since commented on Kitchens’ T-shirt, ESPN added, with a Steelers spokesperson telling Schefter the Browns coach’s decision to wear the shirt to the movies could be considered even more disrespectful. Why? Because the movie he went to see, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” is about the late Fred Rogers, who was born and raised near Pittsburgh and remains a celebrity icon in the city.