Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has been suspended indefinitely without pay after yanking off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet and hitting him in the head with it several times during an on-field fight Thursday night, the National Football League announced Friday.
In a statement, the NFL said Garrett will face a minimum of a suspension of the regular season and postseason and will meet with the commissioner’s office before the decision on his reinstatement is made.
“Garrett violated unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules, as well as fighting, removing the helmet of an opponent and using the helmet as a weapon,” the NFL said in a statement Friday, adding that the Browns player was also “fined an additional amount.”
Two other players involved in the brawl were also punished: Cleveland defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was suspended without pay for one game, while Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey was suspended for three. The Steelers and the Browns have each been fined $250,000.
The fight ignited in the last eight seconds of the game against Pittsburgh, after Rudolph completed a pass and was grabbed by Garrett. Instead of letting go, the Browns defensive end dragged his opponent to the ground—prompting the players to begin shoving and wrestling one another. While Rudolph tugged at Garrett’s helmet first, Garrett quickly ripped off Rudolph’s face mask and lifted him off the ground. The move pulled Rudolph’s helmet free.
Despite a Pittsburgh lineman attempting to separate the players to defuse the fight, the Steelers quarterback chased Garrett, who then swung the helmet with his right hand, making contact with Rudolph’s uncovered head.
Garrett apologized for the “selfish and unacceptable” incident in a Friday statement, admitting he “made a terrible mistake” and “lost his cool” during the game.
“I know that we are all responsible for our actions and I can only prove my true character through my actions moving forward,” Garrett said. “I want to apologize to Mason Rudolph, my teammates, our entire organization, our fans and to the NFL. I know I have to be accountable for what happened, learn from my mistake and I fully intend to do so.”
Garrett, Ogunjobi, and Pouncey were immediately ejected from the game for their roles in the brawl. During the fight, Pouncey threw at least two punches and kicked Garrett’s helmet while he was on the ground. Ogunjobi knocked Rudolph to the ground after he was hit in the head with his own helmet.
“It’s inexcusable,” Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield told Fox Sports after the game. “I don’t care, rivalry or not. We can’t do that.”
Garrett entered the NFL in 2017 after playing for Texas A&M and has become one of the league’s best defensive players. He has played with the Browns for the last two seasons.
Several lawyers believe the pro-football player can be criminally charged for Thursday’s game. According to Yahoo! Sports, Ohio lawyers said his actions can be defined as assault and the helmet could be considered a weapon—as the NFL also indicated.
“Technically, swinging an object of that form could constitute a felonious assault,” Joseph Patituce, an Ohio criminal defense attorney, told the outlet.
In a statement to ESPN, Rudolph’s agent said the quarterback isn’t ruling out any legal options after Cleveland police said Friday they are not investigating the incident. Authorities added they are have not yet received a complaint from Rudolph.
“I am gathering all information and no options have been removed from the table,” Tim Younger, his agent, said to ESPN.