By: Will Burchfield
After video began circulating on Tuesday morning of Tahir Whitehead stepping on the ankle of Bears left tackle Charles Leno in Detroit’s win over Chicago on Sunday, Jim Caldwell defended Whitehead of doing so on purpose.
“I was unaware of it until I guess it came up this morning, and I highly doubt that’s the case, that it was intentional, Caldwell said. “But I just saw it briefly.”
In the video, shared by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Whitehead is shown stepping over a pile of players when his cleat lands on the lower leg of Leno. It seems more like an accident than a premeditated decision, as Whitehead didn’t look down and take aim beforehand.
The Bears reportedly submitted the play to the league for review. Given Whitehead’s lack of clear intent and his clean track record over a six-year career, it’s unlikely he’ll face any discipline.
Whitehead has been fined once by the NFL, for a questionable hit versus the Cowboys in the 2014 playoffs. He’s never been suspended.
The Lions obviously have a history of defensive players stomping on their opponents, mostly thanks to Ndamukong Suh, but they’ve cleaned up their act under Jim Caldwell.
Tahir Whitehead’s wife, Shannon, also came to his defense on Tuesday morning.
“I’m appalled,” she wrote on Twitter, in reply to Biggs. “My husband would NEVER intentionally attempt to 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.”