The NFL is reviewing whether Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead purposely stepped on the leg of Chicago Bears left tackle Charles Leno during last Sunday’s game at Soldier Field, a league spokesman told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday.
The spokesperson stressed that every play of every game is reviewed by the league office for potential discipline.
Biggs posted video Tuesday morning that showed Whitehead step over a pile and land on the left leg of Leno, who was on the ground, after a 4-yard run by Bears running back Jordan Howard in the first-quarter of Detroit’s 27-24 victory.
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) November 21, 2017
Whitehead was not called for a penalty on the play and on Tuesday said he apologized to Leno right after the play finished when he realized he had stepped on his leg inadvertently. He said Leno had words for him after the play, asking him if he did that purposely. Whitehead told him he did not, telling Leno “I’m not that type of guy.”
“As you see, after every play, you tackle guys, bodies all over the place,” Whitehead said. “So I saw the first leg or two, trying to hop over them and then I ended up catching his other leg. It was a mistake.”
Whitehead’s wife defended her husband on Twitter.
I’m appalled. My husband would NEVER intentionally attempt to hurt another player. I won’t stand by and allow you or any other media personnel to question his integrity or defame him in any way.
— Shannon Whitehead (@Shananigans59) November 21, 2017
Whitehead said he has not heard from the NFL about the play and that he would be “extremely shocked or surprised” if the league tried to take action against him for it. So much so, Whitehead said he doesn’t expect to be fined for it, either.
“He understood. He was like, ‘Damn, you stepped on my leg.’ He was fired up, wondering if I did it intentionally,” Whitehead said. “I’m like, ‘Come on, man, I don’t even play the game like that.’ He’s like, ‘All right.’ Turned around, went to the huddle. I did the same.”
Lions coach Jim Caldwell said he was aware of the video but did not believe Whitehead deliberately tried to step on Leno.
“Yeah, I was unaware of it until I guess it just came up this morning,” Caldwell said Tuesday. “And I highly doubt that’s the case, that it was intentional, but I just saw it briefly.”