On Thursday night, Myles Garrett, Cleveland Brown's defensive end, most likely committed crimes on the pitch in the modern era of professional football. Only one answer will suffice. The NFL must impose the longest ban on a single appearance in its history. Garrett's season ends in 2019 with six remaining games on the Browns' schedule, and the world knows that what happened at FirstEnergy Stadium is one of the worst moments in the history.
Such a discipline, tough as it may seem, will not be particularly controversial for anyone who saw Garrett Pittsburgh slash Steeler's quarterback Mason Rudolph's helmet and hit his unprotected head. If Garrett hit someone with a helmet on the streets of Cleveland, he would be arrested. The outburst left grizzled football veterans gasping for breath, a setback that was surpassed by only a handful ̵
Myles Garrett hits Mason Rudolph with a helmet on his head when a fight breaks out at the end of Steelers-Browns' game.
The length of Garrett's absence should not be too difficult for the NFL to figure it out. Oakland Raiders' linebacker Vontaze Burfict was suspended indefinitely at the start of the season as the file piled up on the field, culminating in a helmet-to-helmet strike. However, the longest lock for a single incident on the field was five games. This happened in 2006, when Tennessee Titans defender Albert Haynesworth removed his helmet from the center of Dallas Cowboys Andre Gurode and kicked and kicked him. Gurode needed 30 stitches to close the wounds.
Rudolph was lucky enough to avoid a similar fate or worse. The baffled expression of Brown's quarterback Baker Mayfield, who spoke moments later in an Fox interview, showed the weight of the scene. Mayfield could not summon an ounce of defense for his teammate.
"It's inexcusable," he said. "The only thing that endangers the other team … The reality is that it's being suspended, we do not know how long and that hurts our team."
Do not forget that Rudolph was knocked unconscious last month by a hit on the helmet and missed a game. The impact of this blow, initiated by Baltimore Ravens Security Commissioner Thomas III, was so intense that Rudolph's eyes closed before he fell to the ground. If you knew this context, you were probably huddled together when you saw Garrett knocking Rudolph's head down, crowned by Brown's defender Larry Ogunjobi, who pushed Rudolph from behind onto the ground. The Steelers Center Maurkice Pouncey entered the fight, kicking and punching Garrett and escalating the scene to a point where it would not be surprising to see police officers in the field. (Rudolph pulled on Garrett's helmet when both were down, but that little bit of aggressiveness barely earned the reaction.)
"I lost control, and I regret it," Garrett said afterwards. Rudolph called it after the game "cowardly" and "Busch league". But I'm sorry if I use normal words to describe a singular act of violence, I risk including him in all the other dirty and unsportsmanlike games we've seen in football.
This was worse than Chuck Bednarik's KO by Frank Gifford in 1960. It was worse than the hit by Jack Tatum on Darryl Stingley in 1978, which ultimately paralyzed Stingley. These games, the first two that came to mind in the history of the NFL on violence on the pitch, were part of the flow of the game. Bednarik clothed Gifford with a not at that time unusual tackle technique. Tatum hit Stingley in the head in a stroke that was now defenseless.
They were violent, unnecessary and extremely harmful. Garrett's absurdity, however, came after the final whistle, without any appearance of competition.
Maurkice Pouncey says the NFL should expose Myles Garrett for the rest of the season after she had hit Mason Rudolph with a helmet in her head.
There are few precedents in the history of the NFL that come close. Haynesworth's pounding is one. In 2013, Antonio Smith tore off the helmet of Richie Incognito and swung him close to his face. For this, Smith was suspended for three games. According to the football historian Dan Daly Colt's defensive play beat Don Joyce Rams linebacker Les Richter in 1954 with a helmet for which he was ejected but not suspended.
That was, of course, 65 years ago.
The NFL was eager to prove its ability at a time when it had never known and responded to brain health so well. There should be little debate on Friday at the League headquarters in New York City. Commissioner Roger Goodell wanted to let the world know how extraordinary this situation is. Football can not be like that anymore.
But in truth he was rarely – if ever – like that. The punishment of the NFL should reflect this sobering fact.