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Spencer Lanning reflects on taking a cleat to the facemask


Of all the images from the NFL's opening kickoff 2014 weekend, none were more iconic in the social media world than the one above.  

In the middle of the second quarter of the Browns game at Heinz Field, Cleveland punter Spencer Lanning absolutely boomed a punt 57 yards down the field. Unfortunately for the Browns, Steelers return man Antonio Brown broke loose from the punt coverage, and raced up the left sideline.

Standing in between Brown and the end zone was Lanning. Sensing Brown was trying to juke by the punter, Lanning crouched lower, hoping his tackling technique would trip up Brown. The Pro Bowl wide receiver saw Lanning in a low position, and tried to hurdle the punter.

Instead, Brown landed a roundhouse-karate kick right to Lanning's face.

"It happened so fast, I really didn't have time to react for the jump, so I just tried to stand up," said Lanning, reliving the moment. "And…you saw what happened."

We did. And so did the entire world. Lanning's phone after the game had 141 text messages. Family members reached out to make sure he was okay. But the texts were mostly from friends, teasing Lanning about the hilarious play.

"I got ragged on by a bunch of my buddies," Lanning said, with a smile. "They were all like, 'Dude, you got posterized!' But I'm not going to lie, if it happened to someone else, I'd be saying the same exact thing. If anyone knows me, they know at the end of the day, I thought it was pretty funny."

After seeing how much buzz there was about Brown's kick to his face on Twitter, Lanning knew he had to react in some sort of way on social media. This is what he came up with.

The nearly 39,000 ReTweets are an unofficial Browns record for the amount of social engagement for any post, ever. By comparison, when Duke Johnson Jr. tweeted to his one million followers after the NFL draft he was excited to go to work for the Dawg Pound, that post received 18,000 ReTweets. Additionally Lanning's follower count jumped from roughly 6,000 to nearly 14,000.

"When I put it out there, [Browns kicker] Billy Cundiff texted me saying I got 1,000 ReTweets in two minutes," said Lanning. "I remember thinking then, 'Geez, that's pretty nuts.' For a punter? I mean all I did was get run over. It just goes to show you how was stuff happens in the social media world."

Although he's having fun with it in his free time, and so are his teammates, who snickered about the kick when reviewing the film, Lanning wants to make it known the Browns aren't happy with their performance in Pittsburgh – especially his unit.

"We got beat on special teams and I take that personally," said Lanning. "As being one of the older guys on the team, we got beat on pretty much all three phases. And it's our job to win the field position battle to help out our defense, which ultimately helps our offense score points. And we did not accomplish that.

"We lost to our rival on opening day and it was a big day for coach Pettine and the entire organization.  We hear people say, 'It's the same old Browns.' We are going to continue to try and improve and tell people – it's not."

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