Thursday Night Football was going great for the Cleveland Browns until the night turned sour in true Browns fashion.
The first victory over divisional rival Pittsburgh Steelers since 2014 would forever be tainted and overshadowed once the 2017 No. 1 overall pick, Myles Garrett decided to use a football helmet “as a weapon” and strike opposing quarterback, Mason Rudolph, in the head.
Hours after the violent outburst, the NFL handed out the longest suspension for a single on-field infraction in league history: six games including the playoffs and possibly more leading into next season. While impactful the punishment is still not enough.
A sport known for its super athletes trying to inflict violence, witnessed something that resembled more of a WWE stunt or bar-room brawl.
The outrageous incident, a major black-eye for the NFL, occurred when the 6-foot, 4-inches tall defensive end Garrett wrestled Rudolph violently to the ground long after he had completed a short pass to end the final eight seconds of the game–a game that’s fate was already sealed due to the 14-point lead.
The tussle between Garrett and Rudolph continued as each guy pushed, pulled and made advancements toward one-another’s helmet. Garrett with a 40 pound advantage of Rudolph, had offensive linemen and referees trying to intervene, but still managed to drag the QB by the helmet across the turf. The helmet eventually broke free and was ripped off from Rusdolph’s head. In a blind rage Rudolph charged Garrett and was then struck in the top of his unprotected head with his own helmet.
Although somewhat apologetic and owning his mistake, it appeared Garrett may not have fully grasped how bad his actions were.
“A win’s a win. I don’t think it’s overshadowed by what happened in eight seconds,” Garrett told reporters in the locker room.
Of course it takes away from the win. Instead of basking in what was a great team victory, the entire franchise had to answer questions on how they thought their star athlete should be punished.
The argument that things happen in the heat of the moment in this sport does not fly here. Garrett could have killed Rudolph on that field. By pure luck, the helmet was turned and struck Rudolph with the padded underside. If the crown of the helmet was used this incident may have been far worse. We are talking about man’s life forever being changed. The punishment must now show the severity of what occurred on the gridiron.
As stated above, Garrett will face a hefty suspension and fine, and the league must get it right.
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s head of football operations , said more fines regarding the indefinite suspension will be forthcoming next week.
“That’s not us.” said Vincent. “That’s not who we are. There is no place for that in our game.”
I agree with Vincent, the book needs to be thrown at Garrett. Does he deserve to be banned for life? I don’t think so, but the punishment must fit the crime. On top of the 2019 season Garrett needs to be suspended for at least half of the 2020 season if not all of it.
To put this suspension into perspective, we must not forget that wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended for 20 plus games for marijuanna and alcohol related policies.
The league must set a precedence now, emphatically stating this can not, and will not happen again.