Could Myles Garrett be prosecuted for assault?

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Thursday night’s well-after-the-play misconduct by Browns defensive end Myles Garrett will create issues between Garrett and the league office. It also could, in theory, create issues between Garrett and the criminal justice system.

Yes, as crazy as it may sound to those who don’t realize that the rules of society aren’t suspended on a football field, a basketball court, a hockey rink, or a baseball diamond, Garrett could end up in a court of law, charged with felonious or aggravated assault. Indeed, if a football helmet as used in this setting constitutes a “deadly weapon” under Section 2923.11 of the Ohio Revised Code (“any instrument, device, or thing capable of inflicting death, and designed or specially adapted for use as a weapon, or possessed, carried, or used as a weapon”), Garrett committed — in plain sight — an assault against Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Garrett wouldn’t be the first professional athlete to be charged with assault. In 2000, hockey player Marty McSorley received 18 months of probation after striking Donald Brashear in the head with a stick. (McSorley argued he was merely trying to intimidate Brashear; the judge didn’t buy it.)

For several reasons, Garrett likely won’t be charged. First, it happened in Cleveland and not in Pittsburgh (which definitely is a factor, given that prosecutors are elected officials). Second, Rudolph wasn’t knocked out or otherwise injured.

Still, Garrett in theory could be charged. And that underscores the serious nature of what Garrett did.

From the NFL’s perspective, the fact that Rudolph wasn’t seriously injured won’t matter. The image of Garrett whacking Rudolph in the head with his own helmet are damaging enough to The Shield to prompt a significant punishment, possibly under the Personal Conduct Policy. Because the league, as it tries to reverse the trend of moms and dads keeping their kids from playing football, must do whatever it can to show its commitment to player health and safety.

83 responses to “Could Myles Garrett be prosecuted for assault?

  1. His actions went well beyond “tackling.” What he did was assault— and yes, throw the book at him.

  2. I’d say 10-12 games. Not just the rest of this season. Needs to set a precedent. A short suspension would set a bad example for future abusers

  3. This is why dodge ball should have never been taken out of public schools. Rough play even if it’s over the line and undeserved is something the human body can easily withstand.

    You get into a scuffle in the old days, you both takes some responsibility and you end up, if not becoming friends, you become friendly. You grow a mutual respect. Allies if nothing else. Once you get lawyers and money involved and create permanent records, it seems that you stay opposed for the rest of your life. I feel that the idea that everybody has to sue everyone else is helping to ruin our society.

  4. From the head shots on receivers to Garrett’s insanity, this Cleveland defense had Gregg Williams’ fingerprints all over it. Yes, Williams moved on but what he taught these guys remains. Williams should have been banned for life after Bountygate, and Garrett should be banned for at least a year. Filthy coach, dirty player.

  5. What does Rudolph get for instigating the whole thing? Not saying he deserved to get a helmet swung at him, but he tried ripping Garrett’s helmet off first

  6. The earliest Garrett should be allowed to apply for reinstatement is 2021. He should be gone at least the rest of this season and the next. He’s trash.

  7. It’s a nonsense argument because every play in the support could have something considered an act of assault. Thats how the game has a made up umbrella that allows such things to not be criminal actions. The only argument this act has being an assault of a criminal nature is because it happened outside of play and was against the rules. It was still within the context and the arena of the game. I’m not justifying Garret’s actions, but a criminal prosecution would be asinine.

  8. Garrett would claim self defense and file charges against rudolph if it went to that level.
    Garrett backing up. Rudolph attacks him while Garrett is restrained.
    The entire concept of assault is dumb. Saying it wouldn’t happen in Cleveland because its prosecutors are elected officials is dumb and offensive.

  9. Please look at the video. Garrett brings Rudolph down on top of him. Maybe that’s a flag. I don’t know but it’s not egregious. Rudolph definitely reaches into Garrett’s helmet. There’s an assault. Rudolph then kicks Garrett in the groin with his left leg. That’s a second assault. Rudolph then kicks Garrett in the groin with his right foot. That’s a third assault. Then, Garrett strips off Rudolph’s helmet. There’s an assault. And while players are holding Garrett back, Rudolph continues to come at him and Garrett takes the helmet and hits Rudolph. This is an assault but Garrett could also argue he’s defending himself. So, take these actions off the field and put them on the street. What do you have? A man gets assaulted three times and fights back, albeit with a potentially deadly weapon. You going to prosecute that case? Here’s a better one. A man is being held down on the ground while another man who was neither threatened nor assaulted repeatedly kicks him in the head. That’s worth prosecuting.

  10. I find the entire Pittsburgh team never accepts any fault.

    Rudolph tried to rip Garrett’s helmet off but failed. Was trying to attack Garrett while he was being held by his lineman. Accepts no blame. None. Victim – purely.

    Pouncy? Well, sorry. He blacked out, so he wasn’t sure what he did. Sure.

    Tomlin – don’t even have to go there. He has never been held accountable. But here? “No comment!” Sure sign of a leader.

  11. That McSorely incident was beyond the pale. As a Bruins fan, I was livid that one of our players would do something so stupid. Browns fans should have a similar reaction to this. If they don’t, then they need to evaluate their priorities.

  12. “First, it happened in Cleveland and not in Pittsburgh…”

    Pretty much answered your own question there. Messing with the home team in a football city like Cleveland would be the kiss of death for an elected official

  13. I hope for the sake of the game it doesn’t go that route and everyone learns from this.

    The law needs to stay out of sports if at all possible because once it starts it won’t stop.

  14. If I was Rudolph, I would absolutely be looking into pressing charges. That was assault with a deadly weapon as far as I’m concerned. Mason is one tough SOB, can’t believe he was still up walking around after that whole thing.

    Garrett doesn’t belong on a pro football field. He should be suspended indefinitely, at minimum the rest of this year and all of next year.

  15. Never happen with a Patriots player. The coaching is too disciplined. And if it did that player would be cut immediately. Lack of discipline on a team is setting up team for failure. Makes me appreciate the Patriot Way even more. Play the game the right way or you sink into mediocrity and failure.

  16. Garrett is lucky the lineman was partially blocking Rudolph so he was unable to land the full force of the blow. He could have casused a life-altering injury.

    Prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.

  17. Not a lawyer, so I am curious about the situation myself

    Would missiling your body count as aggravated assault, thus creating a liability to the NFL on a weekly basis?

    Would the DA consider pressing charges on Pouncey, who kicked Garrett continuously as he lay on the ground?

  18. I mean, clearly Rudolph was trying to hurt Garrett first. Rudolph just isn’t as strong. They should both be suspended the rest of the year, and Garrett maybe next year, too.

  19. There are states out there with Measure laws where Garrett would face a mandatory 6 to 8 year prison sentence for hitting a man over the head with a helmet.

  20. Not the first time this has happened, although I don’t remember a QB being involved.
    When he was in Houston, Antonio Smith yanked Incognito’s helmet off and smacked him in the face with it, much harder shot than what Garrett landed on Rudolph. Don’t remember what the league did about it.

  21. I don’t care where it happened…it’s criminal assault!!! A helmut is a weapon…weighs more than 6 pounds…What did he have to use a gun! You don’t have immunity because you are on a football field..he used the helmut like he would use a bat or stick..he needs to be arrested and prosecuted

  22. It was reported that law enforcement was willing to bring charges against Haynesworth but Gurode decided not to. That was for a stomp on Gurode’s face. Haynesworth was suspended 5 games. Later he received a hundred million dollar contract.

  23. Rudolph already said he would not press charges, and Burfict got 12 because he has history, 24 is excessive

  24. While I think the incident was very egregious I also think that this should be kept within the confines of the NFL and The Shield
    I do think a hefty suspension would be worthy something that will continue into next season
    What I am most surprised about this morning not one of the conversations I have seen or heard have even mentioned that just two weeks ago Mason Rudolph was in the concussion protocol program of the NFL which makes this attack even seem worse

  25. It was Mason Rudolph who started the fracas and it was Mason Rudolph who charged at Myles Garrett, but Myles Garrett is the villain? Raider fan here with no dog in this fight.

    And as far as “assault charges” being filed, what a joke. See photo of Matt Millen whacking Patrick Sullivan over the head back in the day. Now that was assault!

  26. Here we go. Overreaction and the outrage police will be out in force. How about looking up what set him off? Rudolph kicks him in the junk. Easy to find photo evidence of said kick.

    People will be calling for the death penalty soon. The kid lost his head and will be suspended. So many want to end his career,including this site. You know what he didn’t do? Sexually assault a woman multiple times. Cover up a murder. Or been violent at all up to this point in his life.

    But go on. Rage! RAGE against these athletes. For some of you, that’s all you seem to have.

  27. Unaccusable , as many think he deserve no legal punishment, the talk on all the ESPN expert talk shows, what if he had cracked his skull, Garrett wound up and all his weight behind the hit. No problem kicking a player out of the league rest of year on a football play yet to many think Mason started this as Garett laid on top of him way after the throw and would not get off, lets see QB at what 225lbs and a defensive end at 270lb would not get off Mason. First take Max Kellerman wants to blame Masson.. talk about being blinded by the ESPN show and its content.

  28. Myles postgame comments don’t really help his position… he’s clearly-admitting he’s a loose cannon. Most of us have ‘lost our minds’ at some point in our lives – however – how many of us have in our place of business? And how many of us took an inanimate object in our place of business and struck a business peer with said object?

    I don’t favor prosecution in this particular instance. I think Rudolph has a level of involvement and instigation, due to his antagonism and those factors matter. Garrett is ultimately-responsible for his own actions, but it’s foolish to ignore the antagonism likewise.

    Anyways, I agree with kcsam76 along the lines of how the Wizard of Folly, our great and powerful commissioner, has set a precedent for football-relevant transgressions… yet this helmet situation is not football-relevant, this IS simply bush league. I won’t say Myles Garrett is garbage, but this was a garbage move absolutely.

    And although Rog nor any team can control a player’s off-field shenanigans, they must exert their authority on the playing field such that players treat this business as the business it is. It’s a real job with real consequences.

  29. The legal answer is anyone can get prosecuted for assault.

    Would he be convicted in a court of law? That would seem unlikely. Garrett was walking backwards, away from Rudolph, when he got up and charged at Garrett. Rudolph re-initiated physical contact which resulted in Myles hitting him which could easily be categorized as self-defense.

    Even the act of forming a fist can be categorized as an assault and most of what happens in the NFL constitutes assault on a street (just try tackling a cop some time).

    All of this is besides the point that Garrett went way overboard in response and deserves whatever suspension he gets from the NFL.

  30. Burfict had a *long* history of fines and suspensions before he got 12 games.

    Rest of the season for Garrett is fair for now. Maybe tack on the first game of next season if you want to make a point (although the NFL does not want this to linger for 10 months).

  31. I was wondering the same thing in real time. I can’t go into my office and bash someone in the head with a solid, heavy object. How is this any different? At the very least I would get fired and so should he.

  32. Here’s my take, If he had seriously injured or killed him he most certainly would be charged. If the helmet had been turned around that likely could have happened. He did actually assault him (pending that “innocent until proven guilty thing) so why not charge him?

  33. Wasn’t it Garrett who got ejected from a game earlier in the season, and then he walked off the field smiling, laughing and blowing kisses to the crowd?

  34. It was committed in the presence of many law enforcement officials. Surprised he wasn’t arrested immediately.

  35. He should be prosecuted! That was a criminal act that went beyond anything any football player I have ever witnessed has done!

    To hit a guy without a helmet on with his own helmet is felonious assault and battery!

  36. “If Burfict got 12 games for his “crimes”, then Garrett should get 24.”

    Burfict got 12 games for his years of being fined and suspended. Garrett has no such history. The rest of the season should probably just about do it.

  37. It’s only a matter of “luck” that Garrett did not crack Randolph’s skull. Had that helmet been turned over about 90 degrees, we would not be debating criminal charges.

  38. Can’t see a prosecution here since there was no resulting injury of any serious nature.

    The league giving him a heft suspension however……..

  39. He should be, he used another guy’s helmet as a weapon and cracked him over the head with it. If that isn’t assault then I don’t know what it.

  40. The McSorley case was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw it, but that case was over-prosecuted due to the resulting injury and some race sensitivity in a sport that has struggled to attract non-white athletes and fans.
    Suspend him. Fine him. But I doubt this rises to the level of criminal charges. If Rudolph had even gone to the ground, I think there would be a better chance of something more.

  41. There is no place in football for Myles Garrett. Suspend him indefinitely and make him work in the community. Let him see how most people live. The Browns should be free of his contract not owing him anything. Poor example to all the young kids.

  42. Yup, Garrett went way too far but…….he thought he had a sack. I dont think he saw Rudolph get rid of the ball. Then Rudolph clearly tried ripping Garretts helmet off first and Garrett lost his mind. Rudolph is a punk. He instigated it. I’m not excusing Garrett but when big adrenaline filled monsters like Garrett get dissed, they go hard. Pouncy should be gone too. (He’s just a jerk) Full punches and kicks to Garretts head. Steelers are a dirty team. Everyone knows that. They got some business back yesterday and they didnt like it.

  43. If you’re going to start prosecuting players, just shut it all down now. Getting lawyers involved destroys everything.

  44. This might be the perfect time for the NFLPA and NFL to jointly announce the punishment which probably should be an indefinite suspension but no less than the remainder of this season. That allows Garrett to demonstrate remorse, take anger management classes, etc. when he applies for reinstatement. If announced before the Sunday games the punishment will not dominate the NFL weekend. A joint announcement would also demonstrate a new, cooperative approach to player discipline in contrast to the dictatorial nature of previous punishments. Swift punishment would also likely remove Garrett from the radar of most “talking heads” and reduce pressure on the civilian authorities to interfere in NFL game conduct.

  45. pointtwopsiistheissue says:
    November 15, 2019 at 10:57 am
    Why no mention of Pouncey kicking a Cleveland player while the Player was on the ground? Isn’t that too assault??

    Actually Pouncey didn’t kick the Cleveland player on the ground, he tried but a Browns player got in the way and he caught the kick to the back of his leg.

  46. Memo to the “b-b-b-but Mason started it” crowd: Watch the WHOLE play.

    The pass is out of Rudolph’s hands, Garrett still full tackles and pulls him to the ground and holds him there. After a few beats of that, Rudolph tries pushing him away to get up. Then all hell breaks loose.

    It’s clear Rudolph is reacting not starting anything.

  47. I’m a lions fan, so this is my view. Mason attempted to take Garrets helmet first, kicked him in the D twice. Decosta spit on Garret, Pouncey punched and kicked multiple times a downed human. Now where I come from that’s self defense. Heck as soon as Rudolph went after a constrained Garrett the assault charges shifted to Rudolph not Garrett. Just my take.

  48. The sad truth of the matter is that if Garrett were an undrafted special teams player, he’d already have cleaned out his locker by now. The whole clueless Browns org would be patting themselves on the back about how they won’t tolerate such over-the-line behavior and how they hold themselves to a higher standard, blah, blah, blah.

  49. If you want to get all legal here, Rudolph was clearly coming after him, so he swung in self defense.

  50. I think Rudolph has to think about how he would be perceived by pressing charges.
    It’s not like he was injured, he’s not missing time or anything like that.

    I have to imagine some people would look at it like a weak move if he went the legal route.

  51. I can’t believe people want to see this man prosecuted.I seen fights in the NFL that makes the one last night looking a cat fight,the Ben Davidson Otis Taylor fight was probably the biggest brawl the game has ever seen.Nobody was hurt,and if Garrett wanted to he could have hurt the Randolph real bad.Amazing how people are blowing this out of proportion calling the helmet a weapon or he could have killed him.He doent deserve any jail time for a skirmish on the field.

  52. it is sad when i see so much outrage from sports writers sportscasters and fans in regards to anything that happens on the football field every play you have men assaulting each other every week there is someone going down with a season ending injury or getting cut the society we live in is so hypocritical

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