Football is one of the few sports that promotes contact as a part of its rules. There are
limits as to what is viewed as a clean hit, and situations where a player is significantly
more violent than the established limits tend to be very rare.
However, on November 14th, during the Thursday Night Football game between the
Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Steelers and Browns found
themselves in such a situation. The Browns were seconds away from a win—a season-
changing win—when defensive star Myles Garrett lost his composure in a moment of
rage rarely seen on an NFL field. With only eight seconds left in the game and Cleveland
holding a 21-7 lead, Garrett tore off Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet,
swung it wildly and hit him in the head. The play immediately became the defining
moment of a game that will certainly not be remembered for anything that happened in
the 59 minutes prior.
Garrett has been suspended indefinitely and will not play again this year, while Steelers
center Maurkice Pouncey has been suspended for three games for kicking Garrett in the
head in response to the helmet hit.
“I lost my cool and I regret it,” Garrett said in a postgame interview. “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.”
Players from both teams’ sidelines spilled on the field during the altercation, which
began after Garrett wrestled Rudolph to the ground after an essentially meaningless
play. Garrett, Pouncey, and Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi were ejected during
The most recent controversy surrounding this fight is the role played by Rudolph.
According to ESPN, in Garrett’s appeal of his suspension in the week following the game
he alleged that Rudolph directed a slur at him prior to the brawl. The NFL, however,
said it found “no such evidence” of this ever occurring and upheld Garrett’s indefinite
suspension. It is worth noting that while Rudolph was not suspended, he was taken out
of the Steelers’ next matchup, against the winless Cincinnati Bengals. Since the NFL has
dealt with plenty of controversy surrounding its handling of suspensions, it will certainly
be worth monitoring how this issue plays out as the NFL season as it enters its final
regular season weeks.