NFLPA: Chiefs coach Greg Lewis was fined for shoving Browns safety Ronnie Harrison

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·NFL columnist
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The NFL Players Association said Monday that it has been informed that Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach Greg Lewis was fined for his part in a sideline altercation with Cleveland Browns safety Ronnie Harrison during their Week 1 game. This contradicts an NFL Network report last week that only Harrison would be fined for the incident.

“It has been communicated to us that the Chiefs coach was fined by the NFL,” union president J.C. Tretter told Yahoo Sports on Monday.

The sum of the fine wasn’t disclosed, but a second union source said the NFLPA was notified of the fine in a communication from a league executive. The league declined comment to Yahoo Sports.

Harrison was fined $12,128 for the exchange with Lewis, which began when the running backs coach shoved Harrison following a first-quarter sideline tackle of running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Video replay angles showed Harrison stepping away after tackling Edwards-Helaire, but then briefly planting a foot on the running back after Harrison had been bumped backward by a Chiefs offensive lineman. 

In the replays, it appeared that Lewis was reacting to seeing Harrison step on Edwards-Helaire. Lewis reacted by forcefully pushing Harrison to the side, at which point Harrison turned around and responded with an open hand shove to the coach’s chin and neck area.

The NFLPA wasn't pleased about Browns safety Ronnie Harrison receiving a fine and ejection for a Week 1 incident, while Chiefs coach Greg Lewis initially seemed to escape punishment. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
The NFLPA wasn't pleased about Browns safety Ronnie Harrison receiving a fine and ejection for a Week 1 incident, while Chiefs coach Greg Lewis initially seemed to escape punishment. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

That exchange initially drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct flag on the Chiefs bench — but a replay review resulted in Harrison also being flagged and offsetting the Kansas City penalty. Harrison was also ejected for his contact with Lewis, while the coach remained on the sideline. That was ultimately a significant blow for Cleveland as it fell 33-29, facing Kansas City’s formidable passing offense without its starting strong safety for the final three quarters.

Harrison’s ejection also drew the ire of Tretter and other Browns players, who criticized the league for what they believed was an uneven standard of responsibility when coaches and players come into contact.

“I expect that [Lewis] gets held to the same [ejection] standard — if not a higher standard than Ronnie,” Tretter said. “[For] being the first one in there and being a coach putting his hands on an opposing player.”

The following week, the NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams warning them about contact between coaches and players, emphasizing a rule that states that “unnecessary physical contact with or directing abusive, threatening, or insulting language or gestures at opponents, game officials, or representatives of the League” would result in a 15-yard penalty. 

It did not, however, specify an ejection for such a violation — which is suggestive that if the incident between Harrison and Lewis were to happen again with another player and coach, the flag and ejection would ultimately continue to be more punitive for the player.

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