In a wild melee at the end of Thursday night’s NFL game, Cleveland’s Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Pittsburgh’s Mason Rudolph and used it to strike the Steelers quarterback in the head.
Garrett, a former No. 1 overall pick and defensive star for the Browns, was suspended indefinitely by the league Friday morning and could potentially face legal trouble for his actions, which came in the final seconds of a 21-7 victory by Cleveland.
“I made a mistake, I lost my cool,” Garrett said after the game. “It’s going to come back to hurt our team. The guys who jumped in the scrum, I appreciate my teammates having my back but it shouldn’t have gotten that far. That’s on me.”
Rudolph said: “It was bush league, it was a total coward move on his part. It’s OK, I get it. I’m not gonna take it from any bully.”
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield didn’t hold back in criticizing his teammate in a postgame interview with Fox’s Erin Andrews.
“I didn’t see why it started, but it’s inexcusable,” Mayfield said. “I don’t care, rivalry or not, we can’t do that. That’s kind of the history of what’s been going on here lately, hurting yourself, and that’s just endangering the other team. It’s inexcusable, he knows that. I hope he does now. It’s tough. We’ll see.”
Mayfield said he couldn’t think of anything to say to Garrett in the moment to “calm him down.”
“The reality is he’s going to get suspended,” the quarterback said. “We don’t know how long, and that hurts our team. We can’t do that. We can’t continue to hurt this team. It’s inexcusable.”
Fox color analyst Troy Aikman said while viewing a replay: “I hate that anybody even has to watch this. This is barbaric.”
Play-by play announcer Joe Buck said, “That’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen on a professional sports field.”
Near the end of the game, after Rudolph had gotten rid of the ball, Garrett wrapped him up and wrestled him to the ground. The quarterback clearly took issue with that and pulled on Garrett’s helmet as the two rolled on the turf. The defensive end responded by ripping off Rudolph’s helmet and wielding it as a weapon once the two had climbed to their feet. He hit Rudolph on the head inside a scrum of players.
While Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi knocked Rudolph to the ground during the skirmish, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey threw punches at and kicked Garrett in a pile of players.
Garrett, Ogunjobi and Pouncey were all ejected with eight seconds remaining.
“Of course that’s not who we want to be at the end of the game,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “That’s not who Myles wants to be. That’s not who we’re going to be. You have to be able to maintain your composure in times like that. Under no circumstances do we want anything to do with anything like that. I’m embarrassed. Myles is embarrassed. It’s not good. He understands what he did. He understands it’s totally unacceptable and we have to get through it.”
Asked what type of discipline Garrett might face, the first-year head coach said: “I’ve never seen that in my life, so we’ll wait and see.”
The longest suspension in NFL history for on-field actions is 12 games, given this season to Vontaze Burfict of the Raiders.
In a 2004 NHL game between the Canucks and the Avalanche, Vancouver’s Todd Bertuzzi punched Colorado’s Steve Moore in the back of the head, knocking him unconscious. Moore lay motionless on the ice for 10 minutes before being carried off on a stretcher. He sustained three fractured neck vertebrae, as well as facial cuts and a concussion. His career was over.
Criminal assault charges were filed against Bertuzzi, as well as a civil lawsuit. He pleaded guilty to the assault charge after agreeing to a plea bargain with prosecutors.
Former Steelers linebacker James Harrison suggested Thursday night that Garrett should face similar consequences.
That’s assault at the least... 6 months in jail on the street.. now add the weapon and that’s at least a year right?!— James Harrison (@jharrison9292) November 15, 2019
“That’s assault at the least... 6 months in jail on the street,” Harrison tweeted. “Now add the weapon and that’s at least a year right?!”
Cleveland police said Friday morning they’re not investigating Garrett and that Rudolph had not filed a complaint. Rudolph’s agent, Tim Younger, told media outlets that no legal options “have been removed from the table.”