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November 30, 2023

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Browns still hot about Ward’s hit

BEREA, Ohio -Earl Little remembers seeing only black and not feeling his arms or legs.

Lying on the ground unconscious, Little had no idea that Pittsburgh wideout Hines Ward taunted him following a knockout block in the Steelers’ 15-12 overtime win on Sunday.

Little knows now, and on Monday the Cleveland Browns safety cracked back himself.

“That’s cowardly,” said Little, who sustained a concussion on Ward’s hit. “Hey, I like hitting people, too. But you don’t stand over the top of somebody on the ground not moving.

“I could have passed away. I could have been paralyzed. You don’t have to go out there and act like a jerk.”

Just before the two-minute warning of the first half, Pittsburgh quarterback Kordell Stewart completed a short pass to running back Amos Zereoue in the left flat.

As Little attempted to get into the play, Ward came back up field and flattened the strong safety, who bounced into linebacker Dwayne Rudd before crumbling to the ground.

With Little down, Ward stood over him for a moment and appeared to flex his muscles and gloat about the knockout.

Ward’s actions incensed the Browns, who were still hot about it on Monday.

“You don’t do that,” said linebacker Jamir Miller. “You had a clean hit. Let it be. You don’t have to rub it in. That’s what he did.”

“I don’t feel good about that,” said Browns rookie defensive tackle Gerard Warren, who was fined $35,000 earlier this season for a hit on Jacksonville QB Mark Brunell. “Everybody talks about my hit on Brunell. Well, I didn’t get up celebrating.”

Little said he avoided a similar shot earlier in the game from Ward, who nailed Baltimore safety Rod Woodson last week on a play where he peeled back to make his block.

Browns coach Butch Davis said the team will send a tape of the play to the NFL offices in New York for review. The Browns thought Ward’s hit was illegal because Stewart’s pass was still in the air when Little got belted.

The Steelers were given the day off on Monday and were unavailable for comment. Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher doesn’t meet the media until Tuesday.

Cowher got dragged into the Little-Ward episode when he got into a shouting match with Browns cornerback Corey Fuller during and after the game.

Fuller immediately confronted Ward and drew a 15-yard penalty for taunting Little. Moments later, Fuller walked toward the Pittsburgh sideline when Cowher stepped in and began swearing at him.

“He (Cowher) comes up and starts talking this and that,” Fuller said. “I know I talk a lot. But he’s an ex-player. He should know some of the emotions that are out there. He was talking like a player, telling me to shut up.”

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