Troy Vincent is the league’s head of football operations and is the man to whom much of commissioner Roger Goodell’s power and authority is deferred. He is the chief arbiter of discipline, an area in which Goodell has continued to distance himself. So it’s Vincent whom we hear from when a major disciplinary issue arises.
And boy did one arise Thursday night in Cleveland, in a game that saw four players ejected. Three players were ultimately suspended for their actions, but Vincent made it clear that this week will present “another wave of fines”.
One of those fines will be given to Mason Rudolph, the victim of Cleveland Browns defender Myles Garrett’s disgusting assault, during which he used the quarterback’s own helmet to deliver a blow to his head. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ passer was fortunately not seriously injured, but it warranted an indefinite suspension for him.
As for Rudolph, Vincent more or less confirmed that nothing that he did rose to the level of a suspension, but he did say that “there could be multiple fines coming to him if we find another action that constitutes unsportsmanlike conduct”.
He cited the quarterback’s grabbing of Garrett’s facemask after being illegally taken to the ground as an infraction. “The grabbing of the facemask, that is a fine”, he said, confirming that Rudolph will be short some money for his own role in the confrontation.
Outside of Rudolph, 10 or more players are expected to be fined in some form or fashion for their role in the melee, many of them for leaving the bench area to surround the area on the field in which the confrontation had been occurring.
In the meantime, the three players who were given suspensions are expecting to have their appeals heard over the course of the next couple of days. For the Steelers, center Maurkice Pouncey was suspended for three games for punching and kicking Garrett.
Brown defender Larry Ogunjobi was suspended for one game for shoving Rudolph while he wasn’t looking. Vince said of that confrontation, “this is an individual who, in our view, was going out of his way to escalate this situation. This is an action that could start another melee. It is a potential re-escalation”.
Fortunately, it didn’t get worse from there, and in fact de-escalated relatively quickly once Garrett was taken to the ground, with David DeCastro working to restrain him. Garrett even commended DeCastro for his role in the altercation after the game. I do wonder if he would have done anything differently if he clearly saw what Garrett did to Rudolph.