League to review play in which Tahir Whitehead stepped on Charles Leno's leg

ByJeff Dickerson ESPN logo
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

CHICAGO -- An NFL spokesperson said Tuesday that the league will review whether Detroit Lions linebacker Tahir Whitehead intentionally stepped on the left leg of Bears left tackle Charles Leno during Sunday's game at Soldier Field.

The review is standard process, as the NFL checks every play in all games for potential discipline.

The Chicago Tribune posted video Tuesday morning that showed Whitehead stepping over a pile and landing 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.

Whitehead was not called for a penalty on the play.

On Tuesday, Whitehead 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 whether he stepped on him on purpose. Whitehead said 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 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. Whitehead said he doesn't expect to be fined, 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 that Whitehead deliberately stepped 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."

Whitehead's wife emphatically defended her husband on Twitter.

"I'm appalled," Shannon Whitehead wrote. "My husband would NEVER attempt to intentionally 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."

The Bears (3-7) and Lions (6-4) meet again in Week 15 at Ford Field on Dec. 16.

ESPN's Michael Rothstein contributed to this report.