Browns lineman gets black eye

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The Independent Online

Orlando Brown of the Cleveland Browns was in the hospital with impaired vision today after a referee's penalty flag accidentally hit him in the eye.

Orlando Brown of the Cleveland Browns was in the hospital with impaired vision today after a referee's penalty flag accidentally hit him in the eye.

The 6-foot-7, 350-pound (2-meter, 157.5-kilo) tackle stormed onto the field during Sunday's game with Jacksonville and shoved referee Jeff Triplette to the ground.

Brown, whose father lost his sight to glaucoma in 1993, became enraged when Triplette's flag - weighted with BBs - struck him in the right eye.

Brown spent Sunday night in Cleveland Clinic and is expected to stay there about two days. The team said blood was present in a chamber of the injured eye.

"This is not about Orlando Brown is a villain," Browns safety Corey Fuller said today. "What if Zeus (Brown's nickname) is blind in his right eye? Thies."

Triplette, a slender 6-footer, (1.8-meter) was flattened with a two-handed shove to the chest. The referee was not hurt, and Brown was immediately ejected.

The minimum fine for physical contact with an official is $10,000, and there is precedent for a suspension.

The Browns also will review the conduct of their fiery tackle, whom they signed to a six-year, $27 million free-agent contract in February.

"There is no question that we agree with the officials' response in ejecting Orlando Brown," Cleveland president Carmen Policy said. "It is unfortunate that he was injured by the official's flag, perhaps even seriously.

"We will be discussing the responsibilities of the club and ramifications of the incident with league officials."

After he flattened Triplette, Brown towered over the official and seemed as if he might do more damage before being restrained by teammates.

Once pushed to the sideline, Brown was still swinging at some Cleveland players and got into an argument with Browns coach Chris Palmer. Surrounded by security personnel, he was ushered to the locker room.

With 12:37 remaining in the second quarter, Triplette blew his whistle on a false start and threw his penalty flag toward the line. Somehow, the flag flew inside Brown's facemask.

"I have been officiating almost 30 years and never had anything like that happen," Triplette said. "Certainly there was every effort to apologize, because it was totally unintentionally and inadvertent."

After the game, many of Brown's teammates came to his defense. Some faulted the referee for throwing the flag in the direction of game action.

"I've been worried about getting hit with a flag just like that," Abdul-Jabbar said. "All I'm saying is just drop the flag. Don't throw it at people."

Brown, who prefers to be called "Zeus" and once turned down an offer to join the World Wrestling Federation, has had problems restraining himself. Earlier this year, he was fined $5,000 for a late hit on the final play in a game against New Orleans.

Defensive end Derrick Alexander scoffed at the idea that Brown might need anger counseling.

"If that is the case," Alexander said, "then all of us need help on Sunday because we're out there trying to kill each other."