Chukwuma Okorafor says he was “just playing ball” when he jumped on Anthony Walker

USA Today

Steelers tackle Chukwuma Okorafor drew plenty of social media outrage — but not a penalty flag — when he jumped on a fallen Browns linebacker Anthony Walker on Thursday night. But Okorafor says he did nothing wrong.

Okorafor engaged Walker on a block downfield when Walker fell awkwardly to the ground, face-first. Okorafor reacted to that by forcefully throwing his full body weight onto Walker’s back. Walker ended up getting carted off the field with a leg injury that he appeared to suffer during the initial block and not on the hit afterward, while Okorafor got penalized for being an ineligible receiver downfield but not for the hit.

Okorafor insisted he was just trying to finish the block.

I don’t know what happened,” Okorafor said, via “I was just playing ball.”

Most observers who weighed in on social media disagreed, and many thought Okorafor should have been ejected. The league office may look at Okorafor’s play and say he was doing a lot more than just playing ball.

21 responses to “Chukwuma Okorafor says he was “just playing ball” when he jumped on Anthony Walker

  1. This is idiotic. This happens almost every play where a defender falls to the ground – get on them so they can’t get back up and involved in the play.

    Unfortunate the player was injured at the time, but Chuks doesn’t know that when he’s finishing the block.

  2. The refs were terrible in this game. There were at least 3 face masks that the Steelers got away with. Over turning the spot of the ball at the end of the game with zero definitive angle was bad. They need to buy Garrett some flowers and a drink for the way they were holding on to him the entire game. All of this gets swept under the rug because the Browns won anyway but the refs were trying their best to help out the Steelers.

  3. Just another example of how the average fan has no idea about how the game is actually played. The guy did what he always does. He covered the guy on the ground to complete the block and make sure he didn’t get up to get back in the play. Absolutely basic football. And to say he “forcefully threw himself down” is a total joke. It looked like he dropped on him pretty lightly, actually, like he was just going through the motions at that point. More completely made up drama over a nothing play that roils up fans who have never played and don’t really understand the nuances of the game.

  4. It was an idiotic play in the heat of the moment. But didn’t he blow out a knee or something? Correct me if I’m wrong. So him jumping on him had no real affect on the injury and why he was hurt.

  5. Agree with 540Steelers Country. As a former player in the trenches, you are coached from an early age to cover a fallen foe. It is to prevent them from getting up and involved. I don’t believe he was trying to be malicious, just doing was he was coached to do from an early age. Did he need to flop? Maybe not, but still don’t think harm was intended, nor did he know that the player was hurt. This stuff happens in seconds, we have the luxury of reviewing it on a slower time frame, players do not….

    Just my opinion..

  6. If your coaches were teaching you to be on the ground then they were not good coaches. I was always taught to play to the whistle and if you pancake somebody, go find someone else to hit.

  7. You play to the whistle. If Walker isn’t hurt and gets up and makes a tackle you get a minus on the play. This is o-line 101.

  8. No dog in the fight, but it was obvious Okorafor had no idea Walker was injured and anyone whining about him going on top of a player that was down has never been on a football field. It is Pop Warner 101 to “finish” a player that is down to ensure he doesn’t get up and get back into the play. This isn’t badminton. I actually don’t like the Steelers, but I agree 100 % the guy was “just playing ball”. Sheeesh.

  9. I think a lot of people need to go back and watch the play. Walker hit the ground after the first block. Okorafor stepped away towards the play and then turned around and flopped on Walker. There were other Browns players on their feet in the vicinity that he could have blocked.

  10. I think I’ve seen O linemen jumping on downed players backs almost every game. The injury was prior to getting held down. If this is a fine, they’ll be fining linemen every week.

  11. For those commenting that this is a normal way to block, it’s pure BS. There were 3 other Browns defenders on their feet within inches of Okafor that he could have starting blocking. To unnecessarily jump on the man’s back when he’s face down and writhing in pain is the text book definition of unnecessary roughness. The Steelers objective was very clear. Take out the Browns leading tackler at all cost so your sorry 3.5 yard per carry running back can get a big gain. The ball is in your court now NFL.

  12. Browns’ fan here…to me, it was not a penalty, dirty or anything other than hard-nosed football. Okorafor didn’t know Walker was already hurt and wanted to be sure Walker didn’t get back into the play.
    It seems Browns get the short-end a lot from the refs: this was not one of those occasions IMO.

  13. Steeler fan. Dirty play! I even texted my dad after that play. It was totally unnecessary and pointless. Was the down player going to get up and chase the play down field? I can’t read minds, so I can’t say if that was intent to injure or just stupidity.

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