For many, what they got out of Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett on Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers was something that they had never seen before in professional sports. I’m sure similar occurrences have not been all too frequent, generally speaking.
At the end of the game, Garrett, after violently removing Rudolph’s helmet, struck a blow on the quarterback’s head with said helmet after Rudolph began approaching him to confront him about his conduct. While he appears to have been relatively unharmed, his action in using the helmet as a weapon and striking him on the head amounts to an assault within any context.
Many legal experts and non-experts have weighed in over the course of the past 24 hours, and the general consensus seems to be that, while it could certainly be construed as an assault, prosecutors would be extremely hesitant to try to legislate a game in that way. Charges have been filed for a player’s conduct on the field before, but it has been exceedingly rare.
On the night following the game, Rudolph’s agent posted a statement in which he said that, at the time, he and his client were not leaving any option available to them off the table; however, by the end of Friday, it was reported by Ian Rapoport and others that his team had decided that they would not pursue legal proceedings against Garrett.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 15, 2019
Prior to that, the Cleveland Police Department also said that it was not investigating Garrett for the incident. They added, however, that they had not received a complaint from the victim, e.g. Rudolph, which seems to imply that they would have gone through with an investigation had Rudolph pressed for one.
Perhaps the fact that the league acted so quickly and handed down an indefinite suspension for Garrett, which will last through at least the entirety of the 2019 season and could extend beyond that, played a role in the thought process of Rudolph’s team regarding the decision not to pursue legal action.
The third-year defender did not offer an apology to Rudolph on the night of the game, but he did include which he expressed remorse for his actions and an understanding that he made a mistake and needs to do much better in the future.
Many Steelers fans understandably felt that Garrett should have been charged with assault on the night in which the incident occurred. It seems a fairly natural reaction to witnessing an assault to feel as though an assault charge should follow, even if it came on a football field between two football players while a football game was underway.