If there’s a “next time” with Myles Garrett, it likely will be his last time

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In the moments after he forcibly removed the helmet of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and whacked him over the head with it, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett calmly explained that he “lost [his] cool.”

Indeed he did. And now that he has been reinstated, it’s critical for the Browns, the league, and Garrett that he never lose his cool that way again.

Everyone associated with the game of football (especially Rudolph) got lucky when Rudolph seemed unfazed by the windmilled whacking over his head with a hard plastic helmet. If he’d been seriously hurt or worse, the NFL may have realized a worst-case scenario.

With Garrett reinstated, the league and the Browns need to be completely sure he won’t do it again. That’s surely why Garrett didn’t receive a finite suspension. The NFL wanted/needed the ability to talk to Garrett and to ensure that his behavior was an aberration before allowing him to return to play. Although it’s unclear what the league did to come to the conclusion that Garrett won’t do it again (surely, opponents will be baiting him), the ultimate pass-fail proposition will be whether he does it again.

If he does, there may not be a second reinstatement. And if he inflicts a real injury on an opponent, the league and the Browns will be facing real liability for allowing Garrett to keep playing football at a time when the league knew or should have known that he had a propensity to blow a fuse.

The league’s file on Garrett will be critical to the question of whether enough was done to ensure that there won’t be a second time. The first time, the league could honestly say, “We had no reason to believe he’d do something like this.” The second time, that becomes a much harder sell.

It could be that, in the end, there’s nothing the NFL can do to avoid responsibility if Garrett loses his cool and hits someone over the head with a helmet again. But in lieu of banishing one of the best young defensive players from the game, the league has opted to assume the risk, presumably after explaining to him that this specific batter’s box provides only two strikes.

It’s easy to say that Garrett has learned his lesson. (Of course, some have erroneously assumed that in a different context.) Given the rarity of such incidents through the history of the league, the risk of Garrett doing it again remains low, especially if the finger wagging regarding the consequences of a repeat registered with him.

Regardless, the stakes are very high for the league, the Browns, Garrett, and the game. Whatever it is that caused him to do what he did to Rudolph can never resurface during Garrett’s career. The next time it happens, the end result could be much worse, for everybody.

12 responses to “If there’s a “next time” with Myles Garrett, it likely will be his last time

  1. The Browns and Garrett would be wise to alert the officials to be on the lookout for players baiting him and be ready to throw the offenders out of a game.

  2. He got a slap on the wrist for a whack on the head. If it was drew breeze or Tom Brady getting hit the punishment would have been more severe

  3. Garrett was inches away from potentially killing someone on national TV. Pure luck it didn’t happen. But the NFL just made Garrett promise he won’t do it again.

    The league, the Browns and that idiot player should all thank their lucky stars that Mason Rudolph is an honest person. A “career-ending injury” for a starting NFL quarterback in his early 20s is a lot of damages…

  4. Anyone who has followed Garrett knows he would not have done something like that without serious provocation. To say Rudolph is “honest” is laughable. He wasn’t yelling sweet nothings at Myles before the incident. That Rudolph got just a fine was ridiculous particularly since Rudolph started it and tried to rip off Garrett’s helmet first. I am glad this is over and everyone needs to let it go and move on.

  5. It doesn’t matter what anyone said to trigger poor Myles. If he’s so sensitive that he can’t control his actions based on words, he doesn’t belong in the NFL.

    People need to stop enabling people who act like this and start holding them accountable instead.

  6. Good that Myles is back. Suspension was way too long. Most overblown situation in NFL history. Rudolph should have been the one out for 6 games. Tom Brady and Drew Brees would never and have never acted like he did. Frustrated because he got hit when he was trying to pad his stats.

  7. The NFL refusing to drop or reduce Rudolph’s fine speaks volumes about his honesty. Time to move on.

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