There was a battle within the war in Week 9 when the Cleveland Browns defeated the Baltimore Ravens, as Browns wide receiver Greg Little and Ravens safety James Ihedigbo were at odds throughout the game. It turns out that Little has a solid explanation for his actions, however.
At one point, Little was flagged for taking off Ihedigbo's helmet at the bottom of a pileup and subsequently throwing it, but Little claims he only did it because Ihedigbo was choking him, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
"I know the ref was saying 'let go of his face mask,' but he was choking me, so I'm not (going to let go),'' said Little, who was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. "There's a thin line between football and just morals and if you're a man, you're not going to let a guy spit in your face, and you're not going to let a guy choke you.
"You're not going to let a guy have (his) way with your kids or your family or your wife. It's just how it is.''
"I don't have to say anything to the ref. At that point, (Ihedigbo's) crossed the line.''
How should the NFL handle this situation?
UPDATE: Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 6:40 p.m. ET
Clifton Brown of CSN Baltimore provides quotes from Ihedigbo, who denies the allegations
“In a game, things get physical, get rowdy,” Ihedigbo said Wednesday. “I would never personally cross the lines, or play outside the rules in any manner. You can freeze the clip. I have my hand on his chest. It is what it is. He ripped off my helmet and threw it. I guess he’s looking back on him losing his cool, saying what took place that didn’t take place. The refs would have seen it. Other players would have seen it, and I would’ve been punished for the play as well. That didn’t take place. He lost his cool, he threw my helmet, therefore the penalty was given on him.
“It’s Wednesday, and the game was played on Sunday. It’s kind of ridiculous to me. I’m not a dirty player by any means. Looks to me like he knows that he lost his cool, and doesn’t want the league to take it out on him, and fining him for throwing my helmet.
---End of Update---
The incident happened during the first quarter, and Little was flagged once again in the second quarter for taunting Ihedigbo. Without the context Little provided, it seemed like Ihedigbo got into his head, but Little may have had cause to act the way he did, and he told Cabot that he had no regrets either.
"None,'' he said. "If you're going to take the game of football to where he took it to, I'll meet you there.''
Although it isn't yet clear if Little will be fined for removing Ihedigbo's helmet, he believes Ihedigbo should also be fined if a fine comes to fruition, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.
The feud between Little and Ihedigbo didn't end when the final whistle blew either. Little issued a challenge of sorts to Ihedigbo after the Baltimore defensive back questioned his toughness, according to Tom Reed of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Little on Ihedigbo saying he lacks toughness: " I'm pretty sure we'll play again. If he feels I'm not tough he knows where to find me."— Tom Reed (@treed1919) November 6, 2013
While Little initially came away looking like the bad guy, he got the last laugh. Not only did the Browns come away with a 24-18 win, but Little also had his best statistical game of the season, catching seven passes for 122 yards.
Since the Browns and Ravens have already played each other twice and are highly unlikely to both make the playoffs, the teams won't meet again until next season. Based upon what has been said during the aftermath of the incident, Little and Ihedigbo might pick up right where they left off the next time they share a football field.
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