Maybe they should move tomorrow’s game in Pittsburgh back to 4:25 p.m. ET.
A line had existed between fans squabbling over the niceties of the anything-but-nice Steelers-Browns fracas from 16 days ago, but the players and coaches and others connected to the teams (with one minor exception) had stayed above the fray. And then there’s Fred.
Browns coach Freddie Kitchens was spotted wearing a “Pittsburgh Started It” T-shirt on Friday night. A Browns spokesman told ESPN that Kitchens’ daughters gave him the shirt “as a joke,” and that he wore it to see the new Mr. Rogers movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, with Kitchens’ family.
The Steelers are miffed. One reaction seems like a stretch, though; an unnamed Steelers official told ESPN that Kitchens’ gesture “could be viewed as more disrespectful, given that Mr. Rogers was from Pittsburgh.”
The far bigger problem is that the gesture becomes ground chuck for anyone from the Dawg Pound who will be in an around Heinz Field on Sunday, validating the belief that Myles Garrett was in the right and Mason Rudolph was in the wrong. But it may be exactly the kind of strategic pandering in which Kitchens needs to engage to get a second season, if the Browns ultimately don’t make it to the playoffs this year, thanks in part to a team that has been way too undisciplined while playing for a coach who was way too unprepared for the job into which he was thrust.
Either way, I’ll now be humming this tune until kickoff on Sunday: “It’s a beautiful day on the football field, a beautiful day for some football. . . . Could you grab my . . . would you grab my . . . helmet and hit me over the head with it?”