With less than 30 seconds left in the NFL’s Thursday night football game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers, it seemed like the story had been written. The Browns were up 21-7 and were going to improve their overall record to 4-6, a far cry from what were the expectations for this season, but it showed there was still a pulse in the locker room.
That storyline was obliterated during the next snap. Cleveland’s defensive end, Myles Garrett brought Steelers QB, Mason Rudolph, to the ground and as the two jostled on the ground both players attempted to rip one another’s helmets off. Garrett succeeded and although this action is grotesque enough, what happened next was unfathomable. Garrett used Rudolph’s own helmet to hit the bare-headed QB in the head. A brawl followed with Pittsburgh’s Center Maurkice Pouncey stomping on Garrett who had been thrown to the ground, and Garrett’s teammate, Larry Ogunjobi tackling the helmet-less Rudolph.
Garrett’s swing of the helmet wasn’t the most powerful, Rudolph hardly reacted besides to demand a flag be thrown, but the intention was harm and if Garrett hadn’t been in the arms of Pittsburgh’s lineman, David DeCastro, there is no saying what the blow to Rudolph’s head could’ve accomplished.
The whole thing was a disgrace to the league and the players involved. If the NFL is serious about player safety, players that attempt to cause significant harm to their opponents have no place in the game. In my eyes Myles Garrett should be suspended for the remainder of the season, Ogunjobi and Pouncy should be suspended for two games apiece, and Rudolph should be fined for his role as antagonist. It should be interesting to see what the NFL does with this situation, but don’t be surprised if they go light here. The NFL likes the idea of player safety, but star names draw more money and there’s nothing the league enjoys more than a profit.
UPDATE: The NFL passed out suspensions Friday. Myles Garrett is suspended indefinitely, Maurkice Pouncy received a three-game suspension, and Larry Ogunjobi was given a one-game suspension. The NFL also fined both organizations $250,000 and said more fines are to come.