JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- At some point between getting ejected from the first half of Sunday's 23-7 loss to the Jaguars for throwing a punch and addressing the media after the game, A.J. Green apologized to all of his teammates.
That was enough for them. Everyone was clearly in Green's corner, even with the possibility of a suspension now looming over the Cincinnati Bengals for his part in the fight with Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
“Obviously, he did something to him. A.J. don’t react like that, he don’t respond like that," said Bengals teammate Dre Kirkpatrick. "He’s a classy guy. He’s probably the most respected guy on the team. Obviously, there was something that went on. I don’t even care what went on. I’m behind A.J."
Green has earned a reputation for being quiet and rarely prone to emotional outbursts. He has never been called for a personal foul. He once was fined for kicking a ball into the stands in excitement after scoring a touchdown in 2015, and to this day, he remains embarrassed about it.
Needless to say, Green's brawl with Ramsey shocked everyone, including his own teammates.
Both players were ejected for their roles in the fight, which started with Ramsey shoving Green in the back and escalated to Green putting Ramsey in a chokehold and punching him. Green said later that his actions were not a reflection of who is as a person.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said one minute he was handing the ball off to Joe Mixon and the next he looked up to find everyone on the field after the benches for both teams cleared.
"I was just kind of standing back there, and the next thing you know, I saw everybody running around. I didn't necessarily see what happened," Dalton said.
Referee Brad Allen said Ramsey was ejected because he instigated the fight, and Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, while reluctant to comment, said Green responded to something Ramsey did or said.
"He was set off by something, and we'll keep [it at that]," Lewis said. "Something was wrong."
Green downplayed the possibility that something Ramsey said set him off, saying he was more bothered by cheap shots. Green said Ramsey's lack of respect for his opponent bothered him and the situation got out of hand.
"It got the best of me. I gotta learn to control my emotions better," Green said. "As a player, as a man, as a father, it’s a reflection of me. I should have just walked off in that whole situation. It got the best of me today. But I’ll definitely learn from the experience. It’s never going to happen again. I regret my actions. We’ll just get better from here. Whatever my punishment is, I accept it. I put myself in that situation.
“I understand we play football. Not going into personal trash talking, but when it starts getting out of hand, disrespectful -- but me as a man, I’ve got to control my emotions better. Gotta handle my stuff better. I can’t put myself in a situation like that, hurt my team and not be able to play.”
Several other players declined to get into specifics but said they understood why Green responded the way he did.
"The s--- that the kid did to A.J. was some weak-ass s---," said Cincinnati cornerback Adam Jones. "Everyone knows I’m all for A.J. I take A.J.’s side."
Jones said Ramsey, 23, needs to learn how to be more respectful, especially as a young player coming up in the league.
"Some s--- you need to keep on the field, and some s--- you don’t bring on the field regardless of what it is. I’m not going to get into verbatim what he said to A.J. and how everything happened, but he’ll get what he asked for," Jones said. "It all comes around. It always comes around. ... Just watch what you say and be respectful to people. You never know what happens. You never know who you’re going to play with. You never know who you’re going to see again. I’m going to leave that at that."
Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap offered his assessment of Green and the incident.
"I'm pretty sure everybody is frustrated. We've just got to be a little bit smarter about it," Dunlap said. "That's not him, he knows that. He's probably already told you guys that. You probably won't see that again. ... He apologized to us, he told us what it was, and he just said ... 'I'm going to own it and I'm going to move on from it.' That's all we can do."