The Cleveland Browns were doing some chattering today in the locker room.
The subject: The Pittsburgh Steelers.
The feelings: Not exactly great.
Ahtyba Rubin said a lot of people in the locker room hate Pittsburgh, and Willis McGahee said he expects the game will be nasty.
“Hate is a strong word,” defensive tackle Phil Taylor said. “But I really do dislike them.”
Rubin went further.
“They’re playing dirty," Rubin said. “We’re playing dirty. It’s just that type of game.”
The Steelers and Browns have a long history of nastiness. Several years ago, punter Chris Gardocki took on the Steelers bench after what he thought was a cheap shot after a punt from Joey Porter. James Harrison changed the NFL’s rules for concussion protocols for his late and cheap hit on Colt McCoy.
Even in a meaningless 24-10 Pittsburgh win to end the 2012 season, there were hijinks.
First Pittsburgh’s Steve Legursky gave Browns linebacker Craig Robertson a late hit to the knees.
Later in the game, Browns defensive tackle
shoved Steelers tackle Kelvin Beachum from behind well behind the play; Beachum’s head hit the frozen ground and he left with a concussion.
“I was just playing through the whistle,” Taylor said.
Pittsburgh disagreed in the strongest terms, and the league fined Taylor for the hit.
In some ways the Browns words sound a little hollow. The Steelers have dominated the Browns since 1999, and the Browns have yet to prove consistently they are at Pittsburgh’s level.
Talk means little when a team is flailing.
But the Browns and Steelers usually produce some gnarly football.
With something at stake, Sunday should be no different.