BEREA, Ohio — Myles Garrett will not play again this season, and maybe longer.
The NFL announced Friday that the Cleveland Browns defensive end has been suspended for the rest of this season, including the playoffs should the Browns make it, and will have to meet with the commissioner’s office before being reinstated in 2020.
Garrett ripped the helmet off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and clubbed him in the head with it in the final seconds of Thursday night’s game.
“Last night, I made a terrible mistake,” Garrett said in a statement issued Friday. “I lost my cool and what I did was selfish and unacceptable. I know that we are all responsible for our actions, and I can only prove my true character through my actions moving forward.
“I want to apologize to Mason Rudolph, my teammates, our entire organization, our fans and to the NFL. I know I have to be accountable for what happened, learn from my mistake, and I fully intend to do so.”
Garrett’s suspension, which is at least six games, is the longest in NFL history for a single on-field incident.
In a statement, the NFL said, “Garrett violated unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules, as well as fighting, removing the helmet of an opponent and using the helmet as a weapon.”
The NFL also suspended Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi one game for shoving Rudolph in the back and to the ground, shortly after Garrett had slugged the Steelers quarterback in the head with the helmet. Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey, who jumped into Garrett, kicking and punching him after Rudolph had been struck, was suspended three games.
All three players — who were ejected from Thursday’s game, a 21-7 victory for Cleveland — are suspended without pay and will be fined. In addition, the NFL has fined the Browns and Steelers organizations $250,000 each for the incident.
Garrett will appeal the suspension, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Pouncey and Ogunjobi also have three business days to file an appeal.
Stephen A. Smith agrees with the NFL’s indefinite suspension of Myles Garrett and expects him to still be suspended when next season starts.
“What I did was foolish, and I shouldn’t allow myself to slip like that,” Garrett said after the game. “That’s out of character, but a situation like that where it’s an emotional game, and I allowed myself to fall into those emotions with what happened.”
On Friday, Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said the team will continue to support Garrett.
“He understands the magnitude of what occurred last night, and he’s very remorseful, he’s very sorry for his actions,” Kitchen said. “He understands that he let himself down, that he let his teammates down, he let his organization down.
“We look at our team as a family. And in a family, sometimes family members make mistakes. You support them in every way that you can, even if it’s an egregious mistake.”
Rudolph doesn’t anticipate a suspension, but he is bracing for a potential fine, a source told Fowler. The NFL left the door open for “additional discipline” of other players under the league’s standard accountability process, including those who left the bench and ran onto the field to enter the fight area.
Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam issued a statement shortly after the NFL’s ruling.
“We are extremely disappointed in what transpired last evening at the end of our game,” the statement said. “There is no place for that in football and that is not reflective of the core values we strive for as an organization. We sincerely apologize to Mason Rudolph and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Myles Garrett has been a good teammate and member of our organization and community for the last three years but his actions last night were completely unacceptable. We understand the consequences from the league for his actions.”
Garrett had already been fined more than $50,000 this season, for punching Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker and for a pair of late hits on New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian, the second of which knocked Siemian out for the season with an ankle injury.
Before Garrett, the longest ban in NFL history came in 2006, when then-Tennessee Titans defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth was suspended five games for ripping the helmet off of Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode and kicking and stomping on his face.
Thursday’s melee started when Rudolph dumped off a pass to running back Trey Edmunds late in the fourth quarter, then was dragged to the ground by Garrett.
Rudolph appeared to try to dislodge Garrett’s helmet when the defensive end was on top of him after a late hit. Rudolph also kicked him in the groin area from the ground. Once they stood up, Garrett ripped off Rudolph’s helmet and took a swing with it, connecting on the top of Rudolph’s helmetless head.
Once off the ground with his helmet in Garrett’s hands, Rudolph advanced toward Garrett because he felt he had “a bone to pick with him after what he did.” That’s when Garrett swung the helmet at Rudolph.
“I know it’s bush league and a total coward move on his part,” Rudolph said. “I get it. It’s OK, though. I’m not going to back down from any bully out there.”
Multiple Steelers and Browns players left the bench during the fight and ran to the end zone.
“As an organization, we are disappointed with what occurred last night near the end of our game against the Cleveland Browns,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement. “The actions of the players involved were not something that should be part of any football game.
“Our players, coaches and everyone in the Steelers organization understand that we must always maintain composure, no matter what happens. After a hard-fought game between two rivals, it is a shame that the game ended that way.”
The Browns and Steelers again play each other on Dec. 1 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
After the game, Pouncey wasn’t worried about his own punishment from the fight. He told reporters he went into “protection mode” after watching Garrett strike his quarterback with his helmet.
“At that point, it’s bigger than football,” Pouncey said. “It’s protection. … He could have killed him. What if he’d hit him in the temple?”
Despite the hit, Rudolph said he was “fine” and “good to go” after the game.
Pouncey, along with Steelers defensive lineman Cam Heyward, called for Garrett’s suspension after the game.
“Hands down,” Heyward said. “And I told those other players on the other side, ‘You all better handle that.’ I don’t care who is out there. We play this game, we all work for it — but for someone to use a helmet as a weapon is uncalled for.”
After the game, a Steelers fan started a GoFundMe to pay for Pouncey’s fine.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin had no comment on the incident, saying only, “You guys saw what happened.”
Several Cleveland players, including quarterback Baker Mayfield, condemned the incident.
“Obviously, stuff like that is dangerous,” Mayfield said. “So it was tough to see that, knowing Mason. It was tough to watch.”
Browns offensive guard Joel Bitonio said Garrett addressed the team earlier Friday.
“He just wanted to apologize to us,” Bitonio said. “Said he lost his cool. Said it was a moment of weakness.”
Credit: Source link