Final thoughts on the Browns/Steelers altercation

Final thoughts on the Browns/Steelers altercation
November 27
08:14 2019

Last week during The Chronicle’s “Baseline” podcast, we addressed the on-field fight between the Steelers and the Browns a few weeks ago. At that time, I had not had the opportunity to watch all the angles that were available. Now that I have seen all the angles, I have a somewhat different opinion than what I initially had.

Watching the game, I was immediately stunned by the actions I witnessed. I can’t remember ever seeing a player hit another player over the head with their own helmet. I thought to myself, that it would not end well for Myles Garrett and it didn’t. But I must admit that in the midst of the appalling actions by Garrett, I missed the egregious actions of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.

From what I saw after watching all the angles was the initial hit from Garrett on Rudolph was a little bit excessive. I think Garrett knew Rudolph had already thrown the ball to his running back, but he continued to bring Rudolph to the ground, instead of letting go.  

Following the takedown by Garrett on Rudolph, I noticed that Rudolph seemed to try and push his hand inside the helmet of Garrett and then attempted to rip his helmet off as well. That’s when everything began to go downhill.  

Once Rudolph stuck his hands inside the helmet of Garrett, Garrett returned the favor, so to speak. He in turn began ripping Rudolph’s helmet off as the players were getting back to their feet. Garrett was successful in his attempt to take Rudolph’s helmet off and then things became really interesting.

Instead of Rudolph backing off, he decided to continue to charge after Garrett, even though he was already blocked off by two of the Steelers’ offensive lineman. Rudolph lunged at Garrett and Garrett swung Rudolph’s helmet at him, causing the situation to turn from bad to worse. The Pittsburgh offensive lineman pushed Garrett to the ground and Steeler center Maurkice Pouncey began to punch and kick Garrett in retaliation.

Rudolph was also pushed to the ground by Cleveland defender Larry Ogunjobi. Garrett, Pouncey and Ogunjobi were all ejected from the game as a result. Fines and suspensions came soon afterward.

Now, when it comes to the suspensions involved, I have a few issues with how the NFL decided to handle the situation. I agree that Garrett deserves to be suspended for several games, but to make the suspension indefinite was excessive to me. My feeling was that I would have been okay with the league suspending Garrett for the rest of the season, but no longer. An indefinite suspension leaves it up in the air for the league to continue it into next season. It was a horrible act, but why no suspension for Rudolph?

Pouncey was suspended for three games at first and it was appealed down to two and Ogunjobi’s appeal was denied, so he will serve a one-game suspension. I don’t feel Pouncey deserved that many games. I think a one-game suspension would have sufficed in this case, but I think the league wants to keep him out of the rematch on Sunday.

Rudolph was hit with a $50,000 fine for his role in the fight. That’s not enough for me. I am not excusing Garrett for what transpired, but Rudolph is very culpable for what happened. His attempt to rip Garrett’s helmet off while on the ground and his continued pursuit of Garrett warrants at least a one-game suspension.

I also read that Garrett stated that Rudolph used a racial slur prior to the fight happening. He said this a day later after an apology had been given by him to Rudolph and he received his suspension. I don’t like it when the race card is played as a means to try and diminish a punishment, or in an attempt to justify one’s actions. It comes off as weak and it makes other claims less believable in the future.

I do believe that race played a part in Rudolph not being suspended by the league, however. I honestly think if Rudolph had been black, he would have been suspended at least one game. I’m sorry, but that is the world we live in and how I feel based on previous situations in the past. My hope is that we never see an encounter on the field like this, especially in a league that is 70% black.

It makes me laugh with sarcasm sometimes, because I just saw a hockey fight last week where several punches were thrown and one player was sucker-punched while being held by an official. He then spat on the opposing player and was only suspended for three games. We all know it’s a double standard in both sports where fighting in hockey is somewhat accepted. For me, spitting is far worse than hitting someone with a helmet. It’s literally the most degrading thing you can do to someone. 

But hey, it’s the world we live in.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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