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Why the NFL got the punishments right in the Steelers-Browns game

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With 10 games between three players with a possibility of more for one, the NFL lay down the law after the ugly melee

NFL: NOV 14 Steelers at Browns Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It took the NFL approximately 12 hours before issuing their suspensions from the incidents which occurred at the end of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns game on Thursday Night Football. With constant news coverage, I don’t feel that I need to go into the details of exactly what happened. If for some reason you were just waking up from a three-day nap, check HERE in order to get the full story.

But when it comes to the suspensions, Browns’ defensive and Myles Garrett has been suspended indefinitely. His suspension will be through the rest of 2019 at minimum which will include the Browns final six games as well as any possible playoff game should the Browns qualify for the postseason.

The other Browns’ player suspended from the incident was defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi for knocking Mason Rudolph to the ground while his helmet was removed. Ogunjobi received a one game suspension as well as a fine.

The only Steeler to receive a suspension was center Maurkice Pouncey who will miss the next three games without pay along with a fine. As for Mason Rudolph, the league has announced he will be fined but has not specified the amount as of yet.

While some people want to take the third grade mentality of saying “Well he started it!” as a narrative for pushing for a suspension for Rudolph, the league did a very good job of sorting out all the suspensions in the proper way. While some Steelers’ fans and many NFL players wish Pouncey would not have been punished so harshly, it is a fitting punishment when looking at the situation from the proper perspective.

Why the NFL got it right

There’s one main reason why the suspensions seem to be appropriate in my eyes. I know not everyone will agree on this, but maybe if you hear me out you will understand a little better. The best way to look at the situation was to see each player’s individual actions from only that perspective and not based on the entire situation. Each player should be punished not for the reason behind their actions or the reaction of others for what they did. When looking at each player individually, it begins to shed more light on why punishments were what they were. So let’s take a look at each player and why their punishment was fitting.

Myles Garrett

The most important thing to remember here is it doesn’t matter “who started it.” This is a mentality becoming more and more apparent today to where people do not take responsibility for their own actions and instead justify why they responded in the inappropriate way they did. It doesn’t matter what someone has done to you or how horrible it is. You have complete control over your actions and, unless you are acting in self-defense, the consequences they bring.

Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off of another player and swung that helmet violently striking them in the head. If it were not for the exact way the helmet happened to twist as it was being slammed down onto Mason Rudolph, he could be still in the hospital (or worse) at this moment. Fortunately, the softer spot of the helmet is the base of the back of the neck in case the head is ever driven backwards. There is a pad that usually sticks out below the helmet at this point to save the hard shell from going into the back of the players neck. Fortunately, it appears this was the piece which hit Rudolph. Not only was it fortunate for Rudolph, but fortunate for Garrett. If the swing had connected with almost any other area of the helmet, he could have been escorted from the field in handcuffs and still be in a jail cell.

When looking at just these facts around the situation and not what led up to or what occurred afterwards, these actions alone are worthy of an extended suspension.

Maurkice Pouncey

When Garrett was attempting (and succeeding) to remove Rudolph’s helmet, Maurkice Pouncey was there to jump into the middle of the situation. Once Garrett used the helmet as a weapon, Pouncey stepped in swinging multiple punches and attempting several kicks. Although there has been a lot of support around the NFL from former and current players for Pouncey and his willingness to stick up for his teammate, the league still has to look at the situation of what Pouncey did at the moment he did it. Taking several swings at a player and also kicking a player while he was down, Pouncey deserved an ejection and suspension. Three games seems to be appropriate as one could be issued for punches, another for kicks, and a third for using a combination of both in the same incident. While Pouncey’s actions were noble in sticking up for his teammate, the consideration for this will be only reviewed during an appeal. Although not likely, Pouncey could see his suspension reduced by a game.

Larry Ogunjobi

The other Browns player who was suspended was Larry Ogunjobi who also took a shot at Rudolph as he was watching the situation. Given the fact that Rudolph is a quarterback, had his back to the player, was not actively involved at the moment he was struck, and was not wearing a helmet, this incident would seem appropriate for ejection and a one game suspension. If Rudolph had lost his helmet in some other way and there was not another fight going on at the time when Ogunjobi took the shot, it would have been deemed appropriate to eject and suspend the player. The fact it was part of a larger incident should not factor in determining the punishment for his specific actions.

Mason Rudolph

Here is where the “He started it” crowd just gets annoying. When the league looked specifically at what Rudolph did after he was pulled to the ground late, it seemed appropriate that a fine was coming. Had the incident had stopped right then because Garrett got up and walked away, would anyone have considered this situation was in need of a suspension? Absolutely not. His actions alone were not worthy of such a punishment. So to throw a suspension at Rudolph based on everything that happened afterwards is ridiculous. Frankly, I can’t understand why people would think this way.

Here’s an analogy: If you were driving a car and someone cut you off in traffic, they were in the wrong. But if you get angry and try to speed up and go track down the other car and crash into a different vehicle, is the first car responsible for the accident? Just think about that one for a little while.

Bottom line, when looking at Rudolph’s actions and not everything else that transpired, he is deserving of a fine. That’s it.

I also realize there were some interesting still shots were people tried to paint Mason Rudolph in a worse light than what was actually going on. The video speaks for itself. When a player is yanking your facemask to rip your helmet off, much like someone getting pulled by the hair, your reaction is going to be to use whatever hands or feet you have available to push yourself away. If people want to say that that was a “kick” and justified all Garrett’s actions, they have completely missed the order of operations.


It’s been a rough couple days as a sports fan. I have to admit the situation has me quite bothered. What upsets me the most is not the players and their responses. I’m disappointed in fans. I’m disappointed in fans that want to support their team so much that they are willing to disregard terrible behavior. I’m tired of fans looking at things from their teams perspective and not looking about what is right and what is wrong.

Mason Rudolph grabbed Myles Garrett’s helmet. He deserves a fine. Myles Garrett ripped off Mason Rudolph‘s helmet and struck him in the head with it. He deserves to be suspended indefinitely. Maurkice Pouncey threw numerous punches and kicks even though he was defending his teammate. He deserves a multi game suspension. Larry Ogunjobi took a shot at a defensive player who wasn’t wearing a helmet. He deserves a one game suspension.