Pro Football|Browns’ Myles Garrett Faces Suspension for Hitting Steelers Quarterback With Helmet
Cleveland’s 21-7 victory over Pittsburgh, after Rudolph completed a pass and was wrapped up by Garrett, who held on and dragged Rudolph to the ground. The players began shoving while still on the grass, with Rudolph first tugging at Garrett’s helmet as the two wrestled. Garrett then grabbed Rudolph’s face mask and lifted him off the ground with it, eventually pulling his helmet free.
As two Pittsburgh linemen started to separate the players, Rudolph chased after Garrett, who then swung the helmet he held in his right hand, making contact with the quarterback’s head.
Browns Coach Freddie Kitchens called Garrett’s actions ”totally unacceptable,” and Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield — one of several teammates who were critical of Garrett after the game — labeled it “inexcusable.”
“The reality,” Mayfield said, “is he’s going to be suspended.
A suspension would be the first for Garrett, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, but not his first brush with controversy for rough play this season. He was fined more than $50,000 in September for a collection of incidents that included his punching a Tennessee Titans player in Week 1 and two roughing-the-pass penalties against the Jets in Week 2. One of those penalties produced a season-ending injury for Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian.
After Thursday’s game, Garrett told reporters that he regretted his behavior, which he called “foolish.”
“I lost my cool and I regret it,” Garrett said. “It’s going to come back to hurt our team. The guys who jumped into the scrum, I appreciate my team having my back, but it never should have gotten to that point.
Garrett said he would talk to his teammates on Friday. “I will address them all; I hurt my whole team,” he said, adding, “I don’t know what repercussions I’ll face.”
Within seconds of the helmet attack, players from both benches poured onto the field, and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey punched and kicked at the head of the fallen Garrett.
“Of course that’s not who we want to be,” said Kitchens, the Browns coach. “That’s not who Myles wants to be. That’s not who we’re going to be. You have to be able maintain your composure in times like that.
”I’m embarrassed. Myles is embarrassed. It’s not good. So, he understands what he did, he understands it’s totally unacceptable.”
Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin declined to discuss the fight. “I’ll keep my thoughts to myself,” he said. “You guys saw what happened at the end.”
The fight resulted in the ejections of Garrett; Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who knocked Rudolph to the ground after the quarterback reacted to having the helmet swung at him; and Pouncey.
The game had been a rough affair; Pittsburgh lost two receivers to concussions, and one — a late blow to the head of the Steelers rookie Diontae Johnson — led to the ejection of Browns safety Damarious Randall.
Mike Pereira, the former N.F.L. disciplinarian who now works as a television analyst for Fox Sports, called the fight “a terrible situation” and described Garrett’s swinging of a helmet as “crazy.” Pereira predicted a multigame suspension, noting that the N.F.L. rule book explicitly prohibits using a helmet as a weapon. He suggested Pouncey could face a suspension, too.
Other players were certain Garrett’s penalty would be severe. “He’s done for the rest of the year,” Dez Bryant, a wide receiver who is currently a free agent, wrote on Twitter. Reggie Bush, the former running back, wrote: “In all my life of football that might have been the craziest thing I have seen on a football field!”
In an on-field interview immediately after the game, Mayfield said that the passion of the Browns-Steelers rivalry did not justify a player’s losing control the way Garrett had.
“I don’t care, rivalry or not, we can’t do that,” Mayfield said. He added: “Endangering the other team, it’s inexcusable. He knows that. I hope he does now.”
Rudolph said after the game that he did not feel any ill effects from the helmet striking him. But he was stunned by Garrett’s behavior, calling it “bush league” and “a total coward move on his part.”
“Where did it cross the line?” Rudolph said. “Maybe when he took my helmet off and used it as a weapon.”
Earlier this year, the league suspended Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the remaining 12 games of the season because of an intentional hit to another player’s helmet and because Burfict had repeatedly delivered illegal — and dangerous — hits despite being fined and suspended for prior offenses.