Last Thursday, the football game between the Clevland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers became a secondary storyline. In the closing moments of the evening, Browns’ defensive end Myles Garrett pulled off Mason Rudolph’s helmet and hit him over the head with it. While the NFL can be a violent league, this assault was still shockingly flagrant.
While the league promptly hit Garrett with an indefinite suspension, that’s not the end of the story. The Cleveland defender will appeal the suspension, but will that actually change his punishment?
Myles Garrett’s assault
In the dying moments of Thursday night’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, Myles Garrett drove Mason Rudolph into the ground. Given the scoreline and the fact that he had released the ball, Pittsburgh’s quarterback took exception to the hit.
Rudolph grabbed at Garrett’s helmet and kicked out at the Browns receiver, but things kept spiraling. Garrett stood up and pulled Rudolph to his feet by his facemask; as a crowd gathered, the Browns’ player ripped Rudolph’s helmet off and slammed it down onto his head.
Given the mass of an NFL helmet and the force of Garrett’s swing, he could have seriously injured Mason Rudolph. Unsurprisingly, the NFL swiftly stepped in to punish the defensive end.
The NFL hands down an indefinite suspension
Given the shocking nature of Myles Garrett’s action, the NFL had to take drastic action. The league handed down an indefinite suspension, which will keep the defensive end out of action for the remainder of the season and any playoff action.
Troy Vincent, the league’s head of football operations, explained that the NFL needed to show Garret’s behavior was unacceptable. “That’s not us,” Vincent told CBS Sports. “That’s not who we are. There is no place for that in our game. We all know that. That, frankly, is an easy decision to suspend the player for the duration of the season … Imagine if he hit him with the crown of the helmet? We cannot have that on a football field.”
While the indefinite nature of the suspension makes sense, it’s actually the basis of Garrett’s appeal.
Can Myles Garrett win his appeal?
While Garrett said all the right things after Thursday night’s incident, the defensive end is still going to appeal his suspension. The main point of contention is the “indefinite” nature of the ban.
Under the NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement, no player can be indefinitely suspended for his on-field actions. Garrett and the Players’ Association are using that point to request that the ban be defined as a specific number of games. While they’re hoping a shorter timeframe, that doesn’t look likely; Vontaze Burfict‘s suspension was upheld, and it’s hard to argue that Garrett’s actions weren’t a more flagrant violation of the NFL’s rules.
In the most basic sense, Garrett probably will win his appeal and receive a specific suspension rather than an indefinite ban. In the bigger picture, however, it’s unlikely the defensive end will come out on top. The NFL will probably see this as an opportunity to put their foot down, changing the suspension to a lengthy, but specifically defined, amount of games.