Freddie Kitchens’ wardrobe unintentionally added a little more fire to the already heated Browns-Steelers rivalry.
A picture was posted to social media Friday night of the Browns coach posing with a fan while wearing a “Pittsburgh started it” T-shirt that references the brawl between his team and the Steelers that led to Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett being suspended indefinitely for his helmet attack on quarterback Mason Rudolph.
Devlin Hodges will start the game at quarterback for the Steelers in place of Rudolph.
A Browns spokesman told ESPN the shirt was a gift from the coach’s daughters and meant “as a joke,” and that Kitchens wore the shirt while out with his family to go see the movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” The spokesman added that Kitchens did not mean for the shirt to be seen and “understands it’s not a good look.”
With Pittsburgh and Cleveland set to meet for the second time on Sunday at Heinz Field, one Steelers official told ESPN that Kitchens wearing the shirt to film about Fred Rogers could be seen as more of a slight because the television icon was from Pittsburgh.
Kitchens, while he did not use it as an excuse for Garrett’s actions, did say he believes the defensive end’s allegations that Rudolph used a racial slur that set him off.
“I will say this about Myles’ character: If he tells me something, I am going to believe it,” Kitchens said last week.
Garret was fined $250,000 for the attack, and $732,422 in fines to 33 players and both organizations were handed out over the incident.
GV Art & Design, which makes the shirt, also posted additional photos of Kitchens sporting it.
Kitchens told reporters on a conference call Monday he wants his players focus on the game and not any of the “fluff” around it, because “anything that overshadows that in any way is not acceptable and it is not the best for the team.”
Now he’s to blame of a little extra spice to the rivalry.
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