Garrett vs Rudolph and how the NFL should handle it


Celia Bergman

It’s Thursday Night Football, and the 11th such game of the 2019 season is almost over.

It’s Thursday Night Football, and the 11th such game of the 2019 season is almost over. The Cleveland Browns are about to finally beat their rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and improve their sinking playoff hopes. Then, all heck breaks loose with eight seconds left. Steelers QB Mason Rudolph, who already had a poor performance in the game with a grand total of four interceptions, was tackled by Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.

The events following have been up for debate for a few days now. However, from a neutral NFL fan, the actions of the two opposing players are very clear. Mason Rudolph, as Garrett is not getting off him, appeared to try to rip off Garrett’s helmet.. Garrett responded by pulling off Rudolph’s helmet and hitting him in the face with it. A giant brawl ensued on the field, with Steelers offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey punching and kicking Garrett, and more players swinging and pushing one another.

The main question is why? What caused the usually mild-mannered Miles Garret, hit Mason Rudolph with his own helmet? This is a very tricky case for the NFL to solve, to show they care about making the right decision and not simply making decisions that are better for themselves. The Ray Rice case in 2014 was one of the worst decisions I’ve seen by a league ever. It had the NFL somehow ruling a two-game suspension to the star RB, despite having direct video evidence of him assaulting his wife. It took his own team, and much protest on social media from players and fans to release him to receive a real punishment. The NFL can’t blunder this situation like they did with that case. It would let the fans down and make them question the league even more about what their real intentions are.

I realize this is an uphill battle for the league because they’re going to get heavy criticism from one of these teams’ fan bases no matter what. However, they have to at least try to see both sides of the spectrum. A few days after the incident occured, Garrett (who is African American) accused Rudolph of calling him a racial slur when he got tackled, and that’s what prompted him to hit Rudolph with the helmet. This did not change the league’s ruling for the incident, which was to suspend Garrett for at least the rest of this season. However, it showed me what could be a possible way for the league to make something positive out of a negative situation. Obviously the multiple violations by Myles Garrett are unacceptable, as he violated the rules of unsportsmanlike conduct and fighting (removing the helmet of an opponent and using it as a weapon). You can’t do that and not expect at least a suspension for the rest of the season. Another player named Vontez Burfcit was barred from playing for the rest of this football season by just making a dirty hit.  But would it hurt for an NFL representative to ask him what was going through his mind when he vastly broke the rules?

According to Sports Illustrated, Rudolph denied the claims of Garrett, saying “I couldn’t believe it,” and that he was very distraught about the allegation. The NFL needs to bring these two football talents to their headquarters in midtown Manhattan and listen to both of them talk about what happened from their end. We know neither of these two are angels in this situation, but the NFL has to do what it’s failed to do many times in the past with controversial issues. Step up and do more. See both sides to this situation and come up with a better idea of why this violent event occurred instead of what was done. If they do that, we can maybe get more clarity of this ugly incident rather than a circus.