Kitchens was spotted wearing a T-shirt displaying the phrase "Pittsburgh started it" Friday ahead of his team's rematch with the Steelers, with whom they engaged in a brawl just two weeks earlier. The Browns won that game, 21-7, but needed another win over Pittsburgh to both complete their first season sweep of the Steelers since 1988 and also keep themselves afloat in the AFC wild card race.
They didn't achieve that goal, so attention was instead directed toward Kitchens' wardrobe choice.
"I wore a T-shirt. I wore a jacket with it. My daughters wanted me to wear the shirt. And I'd wear it again," Kitchens said. "I put a jacket on, I covered it up. I took a picture with a fan. That was as simple as that. T-shirt didn't cause us to give up 40 yard passes, and we were ready to play. That's the only thing people need to be concerned about. We were ready to play."
The Browns arrived to face an opponent that was wearing its own T-shirt protest, with multiple Steelers wearing "Free Pouncey" tops before the game in reference to center Maurkice Pouncey, who was suspended three games (later appealed down to two) for the fracas. Cleveland appeared ready to play in the first half, too, taking a 10-0 lead, but allowed the Steelers back into the game before the end of the first half.
From there, Pittsburgh outscored Cleveland 10-3 to come away with a 20-13 win that dropped the Browns to 5-7 and puts their playoff hopes in serious doubt. To add to the sting of defeat, a Pittsburgh-area T-shirt company produced its own shirt emblazoned with a predictable final jab: "Pittsburgh finished it."