When Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Gerard Warren told reporters he'd risk a fine to land a blow on Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's
head Sunday the league office not only listened; it fired back with a warning.
Warren risks more than fine, it said. He risks a suspension, too.
According to a league spokesman, Art Shell, the league's senior vice president for football operations and development, notified Warren and the Browns
on Friday that if Warren commits a flagrant foul -- especially after having said he might aim at Roethlisberger's head -- "it may be a decisive
factor" supporting his suspension, "depending on the entire set of circumstances."
Cleveland and Pittsburgh play Sunday in Cleveland.
Warren, who didn't play when the Browns and Steelers met last month, said Thursday that the best way to stop Pittsburgh was to stop its quarterback
and that the best way to stop Roethlisberger was with a forearm to the side of the head. Then he demonstrated by smashing his left forearm into the
palm of his right hand.
"Kill the head, and the body's dead," he said. "You have to get to him and rattle him."
Warren is something of an authority on the subject. In the third game of his rookie season in 2001 he knocked former Jacksonville quarterback Mark
Brunell out of a game with a shoulder to the chin. The hit on the Jaguars' quarterback, made after Brunell threw an interception, did not draw a
penalty, but it did provoke the league to respond with a $35,000 fine.
Told he could incur a penalty again, perhaps as high as $50,000, Warren seemed unconcerned.
"It would be well worth it going across a quarterback's head," he said. "They're already overprotected in this league."
Stay tuned. The league office is.