Responding quickly to an ugly incident during a nationally televised game, the NFL suspended Browns defensive end Myles Garrett without pay indefinitely — a minimum of the final six regular-season games and postseason for multiple unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct violations that included hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with Rudolph’s own helmet.
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was suspended without pay for three games and fined for punching and kicking Garrett after Garrett hit Rudolph. Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was suspended without pay for one game and fined for unnecessary roughness when he shoved Rudolph to the ground as the altercation ensued.
The stunning incident occurred in the final seconds of the Browns’ 21-7 victory Thursday over the Steelers in Cleveland. Garrett inexplicably wrestled Rudolph to the ground after a completed pass, and the ensuing altercation turned into an all-out melee.
A contrite Garrett apologized to his teammates and to Rudolph — who will not file charges, according to ESPN — in a statement Friday.
“Last night I made a terrible mistake,” Garrett said. “I lost my cool and what I did was selfish and unacceptable. I know that we all are responsible for our actions and I can only prove my true character through my actions going forward. I apologize to Mason Rudolph, my teammates, our entire organization, our fans and to the NFL. I know I have to be accountable for what happened, learn from my mistake and I fully intend to do so.”
The incident sent shockwaves throughout the NFL, including Halas Hall.
“It was kind of like a disbelief moment,” Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack said, “but ultimately it’s something you don’t want to see. Football is an emotional game, but you have to know how to control those emotions, and it was real crazy.”
Most players did not want to comment extensively on the Garrett incident. “That was pretty crazy,” linebacker Roquan Smith said. “It’s hard for me to give an opinion on something that I wasn’t involved in. I don’t know much about it.”
Defensive end Akiem Hicks lent support to Garrett on Twitter — referring to Rudolph going after Garrett after Garrett took Rudolph’s helmet off: “If you don’t wanna get hit with your own helmet don’t run up,” Hicks tweeted.
Rudolph will be fined for his role in the incident, according to NFL Network.
If you don’t wanna get hit with your own helmet don’t run up pic.twitter.com/0u7JCsopjG— akiem hicks (@The_Dream99) November 15, 2019
The Bears had a similar incident in August — but nowhere near as egregious — when guard Kyle Long was suspended for a preseason game for taking defensive lineman Jalen Dalton’s helmet off and hitting him with it in a fit of anger.
Bears coach Matt Nagy saw the Garrett-Rudolph incident but said he was so immersed in preparations against the Rams that he couldn’t comment in detail on it.
He said he hoped the culture he and general manager Ryan Pace have developed with the Bears made it unlikely a similar incident could happen here. “The good part for us is that we know we are top 10 in uniform violations and in unnecessary roughness [penalties] and on-field violations,” Nagy said. “I think that’s important that our guys do that.”