Allen Park — It’s been a few years since the Detroit Lions were considered a dirty team, but an accusation of a dirty play surfaced Tuesday morning.
The Chicago Tribune highlighted a moment in the first quarter from last Sunday's game where Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead stepped on the leg of downed Bears offensive lineman Charles Leno.
On Tuesday, Whitehead said it was an accident and he immediately hashed out the issue with Leno on the field.
“Right after the play, once he got up and he asked me, ‘Yo, you did that on purpose?’ “ Whitehead explained. “I’m like, “Nah, you know I’m not that type of guy.’ I let him know it wasn’t intentional right after the play and we just went about our business.”
Whitehead said he wasn’t bothered by the reports suggesting his actions were intentional.
“I know who I am,” Whitehead said. “Everyone who knows me knows I play the game as clean as you can play the game of football. I’m not out there trying to hurt anybody. We’re all out here trying to take care of our families and provide for our families. I ain’t out here trying to do anything like that intentionally.”
On the play, Whitehead lands on Leno’s leg when attempting to step over multiple downed players. The league will review the footage, as it does with all plays, to determine any potential punishment. The Lions linebacker said he doesn’t anticipate being fined for the incident.
Lions coach Jim Caldwell also backed his player.
“I was unaware of it until it just came up this morning and I highly doubt that’s the case, that it was intentional,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. “But I just saw it briefly.”
The accusing tweet from the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs drew a response from Whitehead’s wife, Shannon, on Tuesday morning.
“That’s who you don’t want to mess with,” Tahir said, drawing a laugh from reporters. “That’s the one you’ve got watch out for. I’m cool, calm and collected, but that’s my baby.”
This incident may sound familiar for Lions and Bears fans. In 2014, Lions center Dominic Raiola was suspended one game after the NFL reviewed footage of him stepping on the leg of Bears defensive lineman Ego Ferguson.