BEREA — The film doesn’t lie.
But it can be interpreted in different ways and create controversy.
The Ravens rekindled the discussion about the fight between Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey on Tuesday when they posted a story on the team website, with video attached, claiming Humphrey “definitely” didn’t choke Beckham on Sunday during Cleveland’s 40-25 win.
Browns right tackle Chris Hubbard had a strong rebuttal.
“That’s kinda messed up that they did say that,” Hubbard said. “It’s evident, it’s on film. And they need to take consequences on his actions.”
Hubbard’s first reaction to the Ravens’ denial was “Come on.”
If Humphrey wasn’t choking Beckham, left guard Joel Bitonio wanted to know “What was he doing?”
“You look at the video, I looked at it this morning, the dude is really like trying to strangle my brother,” Hubbard said. “Something has to be done about that, no matter what it is. You can’t have that in this league.”
Coach Freddie Kitchens was upset after the game Humphrey wasn’t ejected and has talked to the NFL about his concerns. He wouldn’t elaborate on their conversation.
He was asked about the Ravens choosing to post the story.
“Did you see the video?” he said. “That’s my response. We’re moving on to San Francisco. Everybody saw the video. So that answers your question, right?”
The Ravens’ story broke down the film, as they saw it.
“Humphrey did what he’s coached to do: protect himself, all while holding on to Beckham’s jersey the entire time,” it read.
There’s been a lot of talk about the play between Marlon Humphrey and Odell Beckham Jr.
Close-up video shows exactly what happened, and that Humphrey didn’t choke him.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 1, 2019
Bitonio was dismayed with the denial.
“You know they’re trying to cover it up,” he said. “They’re trying to make their player look as good as possible. But I mean the guy was on top of him on the ground with his hands around his neck. Something was happening. Even if you weren’t choking him, that’s not a football act right there. So something was going on that was inappropriate.”
The Ravens argued that Humphrey had a grip on Beckham’s jersey throughout the fight — which included Beckham punching Humphrey and grabbing his face mask — and didn’t wrap his hands around Beckham’s neck. But he applied pressure to Beckham’s throat with both fists while holding onto the jersey.
“His hands were on his throat. You know what I mean?” Bitonio said. “I don’t know if you want to say he was in the act of choking or not, but his hands were on his throat, he was on top of him. I think there’s clear evidence of that — video evidence.”
Hubbard and Bitonio were stunned Humphrey wasn’t ejected. Referee Shawn Hochuli explained after the game Humphrey’s actions didn’t rise to the level of “a disqualifying foul.”
“I was very surprised,” Hubbard said. “Very surprised, because it’s shown evident on the tape that he’s choking this man out. It’s something that should be talked about.”
Bitonio pointed to Browns left tackle Greg Robinson getting ejected in the Week 1 loss to the Titans for kicking safety Kenny Vaccaro in the helmet.
“I feel like if you kick Gravy out for kicking somebody, that was pretty egregious,” Bitonio said. “You see something like (Humphrey’s actions), I feel like that’s pretty egregious and something should probably happen.”
Beckham declined to comment Tuesday when approached by reporters but downplayed the incident after the game, saying he was just upset he lost an earring. Humphrey said he apologized to Beckham after the game because “it’s not really the brand of football that I want to represent.”
The decision to post the story was a bold strategy by the Ravens and one that could further the rivalry.
“It doesn’t matter to me what they do,” Kitchens said. “I don’t care.”
“Every time we go out and play the Ravens it’s a big game,” Bitonio said. “We’ve got them one more time this year, and I know they’re going to come back ready. We’re going to come back ready.
“I’m sure that’ll add a little spice to it. I’m sure it’ll come back up whenever we play them in Week 16. But for me personally, I’ve got other battles to worry about. But I’m sure it’ll add to the media portrayal of the rivalry.”