Not many in the NFL play at a higher emotional level than Kevin Greene. But that intensity got the best of the 14-year veteran linebacker Sunday.
Greene tied for second in the league in sacks and one of the best pass rushers in NFL history, attacked assistant coach Kevin Steele on the sideline in the first half of the Carolina Panthers' 28-25 loss to the Washington Redskins.
It was yet another ugly incident captured on television for the 2-12 Panthers.
Two weeks ago, starting running back Fred Lane was suspended by coach Dom Capers for one game when he grabbed his crotch during a touchdown celebration against the New York Jets. Lane did not dress again Sunday.
The Panthers had just given up their third touchdown early in the second quarter and trailed 21-3 against Washington when Capers and Steele began to address the defense on the bench.
When Steele, a slender marathon runner, waved an arm near Greene, the 6-foot-3, 247-outside linebacker suddenly jumped up, grabbed Steele's jacket with two hands, starting yelling and pushed him backwards about 10 feet. The two had to be separated by players and coaches.
"One of the reasons Kevin (Greene) is a good player is that he is an emotional guy," Capers said. "But (he) knew he was wrong."
It is unclear if Greene would be fined, suspended or both by Capers, who said he would take appropriate action, probably on Monday.
Capers Was asked if he viewed the incident as an unprovoked attack on a coach.
"It's something you can'do. You can't have that happen. You've got to keep your poise," Capers said. "We talk about it all the time. It's an emotional game and emotions run high. That's the nature of the game, but you have to always come back and regain your poise. It was an exchange that should not happen."
Greene was near tears over the incident when he talked to reporters briefly in the locker room.
"I lost my composure in the heat of the moment," Greene said. "It's an emotional game and I will apologize to the entire team tomorrow."
Most of the players said the incident didn't affect the team, saying it was like a family disagreement. Veteran center Frank Garcia said he still considers Greene one of the team's leaders.
"It was one of those things that happened and it was brushed off in 30 seconds,"said Dwight Stone, who played with Greene in Pittsburgh. "It wasn't that bad. Nobody got any blood shown. It was love taps, that's all."
"Coaches have to realize that players are in the heat of the battle, and players have to realize that coaches are trying to win the game," Garcia said. "I don't think anybody should ever swing at a coach or anything, but we're all in this together. Emotions flare in this game."
Greene and Steele, who coached at Nebraska in 1994 when the Cornhuskers won the national title, met after the game. Capers said both "are fine"with what happened.
"Football is an emotional, aggressive game," Steele said. "Those guys are out there fighting, OK? Kevin is a good person. We've talked about it and worked it out. That's it. That's all I have to say about it."
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