Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL due to his actions in Thursday’s game.
The NFL has determined an indefinite suspension is an appropriate punishment for Myles Garrett and his role in what happened Thursday. This suspension has led to the ire of some and to an online petition that seems more like a publicity stunt than something that will have a real impact. In order to understand why Garrett received this punishment, it is important to go over the series of events that happened on Thursday.
Both Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph are to blame
This is not about the initial hit Myles Garrett put on Mason Rudolph. Some view it as late, others view it as just good football. The fact is, it doesn’t matter. What matters first is the reaction of Rudolph and the how his actions escalated the situation.
Here are the facts.
If Rudolph doesn’t grab Garrett’s helmet, nothing happens.
If Rudolph doesn’t kick Garrett after he removes his helmet, things do not continue to escalate.
Finally, if Rudolph doesn’t charge at Garrett, the helmet does not hit him in the head.
Now, this sounds like all the blame on is on Rudolph. It isn’t, Garrett has fault in this situation. Garrett did not have to remove Rudolph’s helmet. Garrett did not have to swing the helmet at Rudolph.
The reality is that Mason Rudolph could have been seriously hurt. Rudolph walked away relatively unscathed and is lucky to do so. Things could have been much worse considering how everything unfolded.
The suspension and the appeal
Myles Garrett has been handed an indefinite suspension. It is important to clarify the usage of the word indefinite here. It does not mean “forever” as so many people instantly thought. The usage of the word indefinite is more for the undetermined part of the definition. The NFL is not entirely sure how they will handle his suspension and just how long he should be suspended. Using the word indefinite buys the league time to come together and agree upon a finite number of games he will miss.
Not surprisingly, Myles Garrett has appealed his suspension. This is pretty much the norm for any player who is suspended.
This is just standard operating procedure. The real surprise would have been if there was not an appeal. Even with the appeal, it may not be much help in regards to the length of suspension.
Suspension length and how the NFLPA may not be much help
As Ian Rapoport mentioned, the CBA does not allow indefinite suspensions for on-field acts. That clause most likely written without considering someone swinging a helmet and using it as a weapon. The on-field acts this most likely in reference to are unnecessary roughness penalties, targeting and fights of lesser magnitude.
When a player appeals a suspension, the NFLPA will help in seeking a lesser number of games. (The NFLPA is required to represent all players). This is usually in the case when it comes to violations of the drug policy and the aforementioned on-field acts. Acts that, outside of fights, can be argued are part of the game of football. Myles Garrett swinging a helmet at another player is there furthest thing from it. This action endangered the safety of Mason Rudolph.
Any help the NFLPA provides in this matter will be most likely related towards seeking a finite number of games. The reason? In addition to representing Myles Garrett, they also represent Mason Rudolph. It will be hard to imagine the fighting hard for Garrett when it makes the well being of Rudolph appear completely inconsequential. With the increased focus on player safety, any sort of effort put into trying to lessen the suspension of Garrett will look like a giant middle finger to Rudolph. The NFLPA should know better than to do that.
How the Browns need to operate with Myles Garrett suspended
To be blunt? As if he does not exist. The team needs to realize that his suspension could last beyond this season. Cleveland needs to adjust their roster building plans accordingly. If the suspension goes into next year that means they will be without their best defensive player and they need to plan for that. Waiting to see what happens is not a strategy and is actually just an excuse for not taking any action.
If and when Myles Garrett returns, that is the time the Cleveland Browns can count on him to be a part of their team. When he does return it will be crucial for the team to have a proper culture and support system in place. Currently the team does not have either and what has occurred all season long with penalties, ejections, etc., are just what people see on game day.
Now when it comes to the on-field part of his potential return it will be crucial for his teammates and coaching staff to keep him in check. Opposing teams will without a doubt try to get under his skin and get a reaction from him. A reaction which could result in an ejection or another suspension. Like it or not, Myles Garrett has now been tagged with the identity of a dirty player in the eyes of the public. Shedding that tag is not easy and may not ever happen. Once a player is labeled as dirty, they are dirty for life.
One final thing
There is one final thing to mention when it comes to the suspension of Myles Garrett and whether or not it is fair. There are some that believe that it is too harsh. That a three to four game suspension is sufficient.
If the roles were reversed, if Baker Mayfield got hit in the head with his own helmet by a Steelers player, would Browns fans feel the same? Anyone saying “yes” is a liar. Fans would be in an absolute outcry that the player should be banned from the league and that the Steelers are always dirty. Before attempting to lessen the impact of his action, the ripple effect of what Garrett did, take that scenario into consideration. There is a pretty good chance that if it was Baker who got hit many would be singing a different tune. So set aside fandom for one second. Realize the gravity of the situation at hand.
If a player on another team acted in the same manner as Myles Garrett would it warrant an indefinite suspension? Those who take off their fan hat and realize that they do not actually bleed team colors will agree that a lengthy, and for now indefinite suspension is more than fair.