One of the biggest stories in the middle of the NFL’s 100th season concerned an on-field assault under the national spotlight, occurring during a Thursday Night game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns. With literally just seconds remaining in the game, a confrontation between Mason Rudolph and Myles Garrett led to the latter striking the former in the head with his own helmet.
The league understood that it would have to come down hard in this instance, because there was clearly no way to hide it. The very next day, it was announced that Garrett would be suspended not just for the remainder of the season, which amounted to six games (plus any postseason games), but indefinitely.
Under the terms of an indefinite suspension, a player must appeal to the commissioner to be reinstated. This is the first time the league has handed out an indefinite suspension to a player for something that has occurred between the white lines. Garrett appealed against the suspension being indefinite, but lost.
Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters yesterday during his pre-Super Bowl press conference that he expects to speak with Garrett within the next 60 days about his future. There has been a previous report that the league was hoping he would give them no reason not to life his suspension and allow him to return for the 2020 season opener.
Writing for Cleveland.com, Mary Kay Cabot also writes that, while Goodell would not characterize how he expects that meeting to go, a source told the site that the expectation is Garrett would be reinstated at that time.
In addition to Garrett, Maurkice Pouncey and Larry Ogunjobi also received shorter suspensions for their respective roles in the aftermath of the incident. The league also fined both organizations, as well as dozens of players who came onto the field.
The Cleveland media has portrayed Garrett as “a model citizen his entire career except for that day”, a characterization that some Steelers fans may take issue with. Irrespective of that, the reality is that if Garrett did what he did outside of a stadium, it would have gone down as assault.
Personally, I would anticipate that he will be reinstated at the earliest possible point in time and the league will try to brush it aside. After all, Browns fans celebrate what he did, even making shirts and Christmas ornaments. The team’s former head coach wore a “Pittsburgh Started It” shirt.
That all being said, Garrett is legitimately a great player, and certainly would have been a Pro Bowler, if not All-Pro, in 2019 were it not for the suspension that caused him to miss over a third of the season.