The NFL had to react quickly and harshly after Myles Garrett clubbed Mason Rudolph in the head with Rudolph’s helmet after ripping it off.
The incident was the talk of the sporting world and everyone saw it multiple times. The easiest punishment was simple math: The Cleveland Browns had six games left and that seemed to fit. The NFL suspended him indefinitely, for at least the rest of the regular season and postseason. It seemed very likely it would end up being a six-game suspension.
But in his appeal to the NFL on Wednesday, Garrett reportedly argued that a past case shows his six-game suspension is way too harsh.
Myles Garrett presents his case
Garrett had an interesting case to present, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
In 2013, Houston Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith swung a helmet at Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito. Smith and Incognito got in a scuffle during a play, Smith tore Incognito’s helmet off of him and swung it. Smith didn’t make contact with Incognito when he swung the helmet. Smith was suspended for two preseason games and one regular-season game.
Figuring that a preseason game suspension is practically a vacation, realistically the suspension for Smith was only one game. That means Garrett was given far more games than have ever been given for a similar incident, and that would be an overreaction by the NFL to a story that was white hot for the 24 hours after it happened.
Garrett has a decent point.
Garrett was a high-profile incident
The NFL could say that the difference in the incidents is that Garrett hit Rudolph, and Smith didn’t. Smith swung wildly, while Garrett clearly was aiming to hit Rudolph in the head and connected.
It’s clear that the attention both incidents received matters. The Smith-Incognito incident happened between two linemen in a preseason game. Garrett is one of the league’s biggest defensive stars, Rudolph is a quarterback and it happened at the end of a nationally televised Thursday night game. That doesn’t make the disparity between the punishments fair, but it’s easy to see how it had an impact.
Garrett became a household name overnight, and he’ll carry that incident around for most of his career. He’s just hopeful he can start to change the narrative by getting back on the field this year.
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