Despite the fact that he ended up the victim of assault, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph expressed regret yesterday over the role that he played in leading to the melee that ensued at the end of Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Browns.
He held the deepest remorse, however, over the fact that, through his actions, he put his teammates in a negative position, and it is center Maurkice Pouncey now dealing with the real-world repercussions of that decision.
After Myles Garrett ripped off Rudolph’s helmet in response to the quarterback attempting to do the same to him, the latter got up off the ground and proceeded to charge in the defender’s direction, in spite of the fact that multiple Steelers offensive linemen were actively working to restrain Garrett and de-escalate the situation.
While his running toward Garrett in no way justifies the latter taking the action of swinging at him and striking him in the bare head, Rudolph understands that he ultimately put himself in that position, and thus put his teammates in the position where they had to react and respond to that.
After apologizing for not “keeping my cool in that situation”, Rudolph told reporters yesterday, “in retrospect, I put Maurkice Pouncey, probably one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, in a tough spot”. Later when asked about his relationship with the center, he repeated the previous remark, adding that he is “a guy that you want on your team. He has your back. He’s got everybody’s back on this team. I obviously put him in a bad spot, and we’re looking to get him back as soon as possible, whenever that is”.
After Garrett struck Rudolph in the head, Pouncey went after the Browns defender, throwing several punches both while he was being taken to the ground by David DeCastro and then while he was on the ground, followed by a half-hearted attempt at a kick.
For his role in that melee, the 10-year veteran center received a three-game suspension. While he immediately said after the game that he would accept whatever penalty would be coming toward him, he appealed the suspension, at least in the hopes of it being reduced.
The three-game suspension, if upheld, will keep Pouncey out of the rematch with the Browns, whom they play again in two weeks. Garrett is indefinitely suspended, but teammate Larry Ogunjobi, who shoved Rudolph from the blind side for no apparent reason, had his one-game suspension upheld.
With the offensive line incomplete for whatever the duration of Pouncey’s suspension turns out to be, the offense faces yet another variable as it continue to search for its identity. The quarterback-center exchange is a pretty important relationship, and now that relationship will be between Rudolph and B.J. Finney instead of Ben Roethlisberger and Pouncey.