The Browns will need to get used to playing without defensive end Myles Garrett.
With only seconds left in Thursday night’s win over over Pittsburgh, Garrett ripped the helmet from Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and then struck Rudolph in the head with his own helmet.
It’s the most egregious single in-game incident since then-Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth stomped on the forehead of then-Cowboys center Andre Gurode, if not ever. Haynesworth received a five-game suspension for his infraction, a punishment imposed before the league had its player health and safety epiphany in 2009.
Garrett should be bracing for a significant suspension, one that should last at least through the balance of the regular season. Earlier this year, the league suspended Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict 12 games for his latest violation of safety rules.
Here’s the real question: Should Garrett be banished? It was, quite simply, an assault — an act for which he should, in theory, be prosecuted criminally. It happened beyond the confines of a football game, and if something like that happened on the street, Garrett currently would be in jail.
Garrett could have seriously injured Rudolph, or worse. It’s inexcusable, and the league must take serious and decisive action, immediately.
At a time when it has become more and more clear that Colin Kaepernick forfeited his NFL career for engaging in a peaceful protest prior to kickoff, it’s no stretch to argue that Garrett also should forfeit his. The behavior, as teammate Baker Mayfield already has said, is inexcusable. The question is whether it’s also unforgivable.
If it’s true that playing in the NFL is a privilege and not a right, it should be.