Myles Garrett’s season is over after the NFL’s indefinite suspension of the Cleveland Browns star defensive end was upheld Thursday by an appeals officer.
Garrett is banned for the final six regular-season games and playoffs for smashing Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph over the head with a helmet last week in the closing seconds of Cleveland’s 21-7 win over their AFC North rival.
On Wednesday, Garrett made his case to former player James Thrash for a reduction of his penalty, which will damage Cleveland’s season and stain his budding career.
Thrash found the discipline for Garrett was warranted and he won’t be back on the field until 2020 – at the earliest.
As part of his historic suspension, Garrett must also meet with Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office before he can be reinstated.
Thrash also reduced the suspension for Steelers centre Maurkice Pouncey from three games to two for punching and kicking Garrett following the shocking assault on Rudolph. Thrash upheld a US$35,096 fine for Pouncey, who will miss the Steelers rematch with the Browns on Dec. 1 at Heinz Field.
Garrett’s violent act and its aftermath have been a dominant topic since it happened, and the story took a new twist when ESPN, using anonymous sources, reported that Garrett told the league that Rudolph used a racial slur just before the brawl erupted.
Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said Rudolph “vehemently denies” the report.
Garrett will lose US$1.14-million in salary and his absence is a significant setback to the Browns, who will be without their best defensive player as they try to end a post-season drought dating to 2002.
The suspension is the longest issued for a single on-field incident. Tennessee defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth was suspended five games in 2006 for stomping on the face Cowboys centre Andre Gurode in 2006.
Garrett’s stunning behaviour was out of character for the soft-spoken Pro Bowler who likes to write poetry. His teammates were shocked by what happened, and several wondered if Rudolph, who avoided suspension but will be fined, did something to trigger the outburst.
“Whatever the actions were, this is a guy I’ve never seen anything like that,” wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said moments before Thrash’s decision was announced. “Who knows? You don’t know whatever evidence and things they find. I’m just praying there’s a resolution for him. He’s a very good dude and we all miss him.”