The NFL is investigating Pittsburgh Steelers tight ends coach James Daniel for an alleged physical altercation with a New England Patriots fan Thursday during halftime of the league's season opening game, according to an ESPN report released Friday. The investigation will look into reports of Daniel "allegedly assaulting and verbally accosting" a fan on the way to the locker room.

The league confirmed that it is aware of the allegations and that an investigation was underway, an NFL official told ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Steelers are also reportedly looking into the situation.

Witnesses alleged to have seen Daniel kicking a New England fan in the back of his leg and yelling at the person while heading toward Pittsburgh's locker room. Police confronted Daniel about the situation when the he returned to the Steelers' coaching booth after halftime, according to the report. When approached about "controlling his behavior," Daniel yelled at the police officer, witnesses told ESPN. The NFL has since reportedly interviewed the coach about the entire incident.


Daniel, 62, has spent more than 20 years in the NFL. He is in his 12th year as a coach for the Steelers, according to the team website. He previously coached with the Atlanta Falcons from 1997-2003 and was the tight ends coach with the New York Giants from 1993-1996. Before jumping to the NFL, Daniel coached at Auburn University and an Alabama high school. As a player, he was a three-year starter as an offensive guard at Alabama State University from 1970-1973.


The sidelines of Thursday's game provided other headlines as well, after Steelers coaches complained about interference in their headsets and picking up the Patriots' radio broadcast, which apparently prevented communication between staff members. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin said such problems are frequent at New England's Gillette Stadium, hinting at the long-held -- and recently reignited -- suspicions of the Patriots franchise's cheating and rule bending.

A lengthy report from ESPN this week detailed alleged cheating from the Patriots as well as the NFL's response to two major scandals involving New England: "Spygate," in which the team illegally filmed opponents, and the recent Deflategate, in which the team was accused of intentionally deflating footballs to gain a competitive advantage.