Browns defensive end Myles Garrett hopes to reduce his indefinite suspension (with a minimum of all remaining 2019 games) for hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with his own helmet. To support Garrett’s position, the NFL Players Association pointed to a past punishment for a helmet-swinging incident.
According to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, Garrett’s appeal pointed out that the worst punishment for a similar incident was imposed on former Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith. The league suspended Smith for two preseason games and one regular-season game for swinging his helmet at then-Dolphins guard Richie Incognito.
Here’s the biggest problem with that comparison, a simple fact omitted from the report: Smith didn’t strike Incognito with his own helmet.
Swinging a helmet and not making contract is a far cry from a windmill-cranking thud atop an unprotected skull. Indeed, the fact that Smith received such a stiff punishment without making contact with the helmet highlights the significance of swinging a helmet and making contact with the head that was hearing the helmet.
As expected, Garrett’s appeal also included an argument that the rules don’t permit an indefinite suspension for on-field misconduct. If hearing officer James Thrash decides that the league should re-do the suspension and impose a definite number, Garrett may not like the end result.