I’m hoping that Myles Garrett appreciates the defensive linemen who ride with him for the Cleveland Browns, because they clearly have his back—whether or not they actually should. Larry Ogunjobi said after the game that he shoved Mason Rudolph to the ground after Garrett hit him in the head with his helmet because he was defending his teammate.
Yesterday, Sheldon Richardson also voiced his support for Garrett. “Of course he was defending himself”, he told reporters. “If a guy’s scratching at your face, what are you going to do? If that’s your child, what would you do?”.
After Garrett had illegally brought Rudolph to the ground on a third-and-29 play with 14 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the quarterback seemed to try to remove the defensive end’s helmet out of frustration.
He responded by pulling Rudolph off the ground by his facemask, violently ripping his entire helmet off. After the quarterback got back up off the ground the second time, he began to charge in Garrett’s direction to confront him, at which point the assault occurred.
Richardson at least conceded that striking a helmetless player in the head with his own helmet “was overboard. Let’s get that clear. It’s overboard. It was”. But he added, “defending himself, I don’t blame him for defending himself at all”.
It’s not clear what Rudolph intended to do as he was hastening toward Garrett, because the defender quickly ended that sequence with the blow to the head. When asked after the game what he was thinking at that point, running toward Garrett, he said, “I felt like I had a bone to pick with him after what he did. I appreciate the line always having my back and putting it to bed, but I was angry. Human”.
Many have questioned what Rudolph was doing and why, and have called for discipline. Richardson is among those who believe he should be suspended, suggesting a game or two. “Make it sound like you just can’t be a quarterback and do as you please in this league. Have some type of consequences for your actions as well”, he said. “You can’t antagonize a fight and then claim bully after getting what’s coming to you”.
I don’t think there is any football-related context in which being struck on the head with a helmet is “what’s coming to you”, but perhaps Richardson simply chose his words poorly here.
He also said that he didn’t blame Maurkice Pouncey “for protecting his quarterback. I’d go overboard for my guys, too. So nobody’s knocking him for that. That’s what football is. No matter how you try to hide it, it’s still going to be football”.
Striking a person on the skull with a helmet, however, is not, and he understands that. As for Rudolph, the league has essentially already said that he won’t be suspended, but he will be subject to at least one fine, if not more, in the coming days.