It’s one of the worst moments in NFL history to intentionally take place on the football field. Personally, I can’t think of any situation that comes close to what occurred with eight seconds left in the games between the Steelers and Browns Thursday night. When the Browns’ former first-overall pick Myles Garrett ripped off quarterback Mason Rudolph‘s helmet, it instantly drew a penalty. But when Garrett swung the helmet violently at Rudolph, it crossed a completely different line other than just high emotions on the field of play. Luckily, although the helmet did connect with Rudolph’s head, it glanced off of him enough to not do serious and permanent damage.
Suspensions will be forthcoming. How the NFL is going to handle the situation remains to be seen, but with the “image of the shield” being of upmost importance the penalties will look to be severe. As for the Steelers players, they had plenty to say about the subject. Head coach Mike Tomlin, however, wisely avoided speaking on the subject in order to keep himself from any punishment from the league.
Mike Tomlin really wanted nothing to do w/ talking about Myles Garrett, what Garrett did or the brawl that ensued:— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) November 15, 2019
“I’ll keep my thoughts to myself.”
“I have no comment.”
“No more questions regarding that because I’m saying nothing.”
When it comes to Mason Rudolph, some of the words he used to describe the situation were “bush league” and “cowardly.” A portion of Rudolph’s post-game interview can be seen below courtesy of ESPN’s Brook Pryor.
Mason Rudolph says what happened at the end of the game was “cowardly and bush league.” pic.twitter.com/XiPwJEQuSY— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 15, 2019
Mason Rudolph: “Where did it cross the line? Maybe where he took my helmet off and used it as a weapon”— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 15, 2019
As for Maurkice Pouncey, who was ejected for throwing multiple punches and kicks at Myles Garrett in response to the attack on Rudolph, he appears to be ready for whatever discipline comes from the league. Many players from around the NFL have already thrown support towards Pouncey for sticking up for his teammate in such a terrible situation. As for his thoughts on the subject, Pouncey believes this issue was much bigger than football.
Pouncey says Garrett should be done for the year— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 15, 2019
"Absolutely, absolutely- 100%. We'll see how serious the NFL is about their players."
Adds he's not worried about himself: "At this point, who cares? My man got hit in the head with a helmet. I'll accept whatever penalty it is"
Maurice Pouncey “ Well see how serious the league is about protecting players”. Pouncey says a year long suspension is in order.— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) November 15, 2019
Maurkice Pouncey on going after Myles Garrett following Garrett's helmet swing on Rudolph:— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 15, 2019
"At that point, it’s bigger than football. It’s protection. ... He could have killed him. What if he’d hit in him the temple?"
“It’s bigger than football. It’s protection.” -Maurkice Pouncey pic.twitter.com/4gC00vblfP— Jacob Klinger (@Jacob_Klinger_) November 15, 2019
Defensive captain Cameron Heyward was still shaken up over the incident after the game. In an interview with DK Pittsburgh Sports’ Dejan Kovacevic, Heyward struggled to answer the question.
Cam Heyward: "I told the other players on the other side that they better handle that. I don't care who is out there. We play this game and we all work for it but for someone to use a helmet as a weapon is uncalled for."— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) November 15, 2019
Some of the other players speaking out about the incident included Mark Barron, David DeCastro, Joe Haden, and James Washington.
Mark Barron on Myles Garrett's helmet-swinging actions: "Bull----. And I'll just leave it at that. Bull----. I'll just leave it exactly like that, because that's exactly what it was."— Chris Adamski (@C_AdamskiTrib) November 15, 2019
Steelers OG David DeCastro; ‘The (NFL) has to make a statement.” DE Cam Heyward: ‘The dude was defenseless’— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) November 15, 2019
Joe Haden asked if he's ever seen anything like tonight:— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 15, 2019
"Have you? Neither have I, bro. I've never seen anything like that, especially, obviously doesn't have a helmet on -- and it's your quarterback. We're about protecting quarterbacks, and that's such a big emphasis ..."
James Washington, longtime teammate of Mason Rudolph, on the end-of-game fight:— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 15, 2019
"That’s my quarterback. He has no reason to be in stuff like that. That’s dangerous. I don’t care if it’s on the street. Get hit in the head with a helmet, come on."
Several members of the Cleveland Browns also gave their opinion on the situation
Baker Mayfield called Myles Garrett ripping off Mason Rudolph’s helmet and smacking the QB in the head w/ it “inexcusable.” Jarvis Landry called it “embarrassing.” Odell Beckham, Jr. used “ugly,” HC Freddie Kitchens “embarrassed.” What does it say when your own team is horrified?— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) November 15, 2019
To say that there are heated rivalries within the AFC North would be an understatement. With very physical and sometimes dirty situations in the past between division foes, every AFC North matchup comes with a different level of physicality. But this time, the line between physical play and personal safety was definitely crossed.
The players have spoken. Now it is up for the NFL league office to respond.