Although the Super Bowl is over and done, one of the biggest stories to come out of the season did not happen during the championship game. During a Thursday Night Football Game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 14, 2019, a brawl occurred leading the NFL to hand out many disciplinary sanctions.
After a late hit by Browns Defensive end Myles Garrett, Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph, grabbed at Garrett’s helmet and tried to kick him in the groin. As he and Garrett got up, pushing and shoving began. Garrett, surrounded by Pittsburgh offensive lineman David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey, ripped off Rudolph's helmet and proceeded to use the helmet as a weapon to bash Rudolph in the head. DeCastro proceeded to shove Garrett to the ground and Pouncey started to kick Garrett. Pouncey was suspended for two games, and Garrett was suspended indefinitely - all suspensions come without pay.
This was not the start of the rivalry, however. The feud was sparked between the two teams when the Browns were reintroduced to the NFL in 1999 in the AFC North. When the Browns and Steelers played, James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers laid out two dirty hits on Browns players. But as the Browns grew worse, the rivalry died down. Coming into this year with a new roster, the Browns had something to prove. Although struggling coming into Week 11, Cleveland had grown a chip on its shoulder.
During the game the Browns players were attacking but not in the right way. They were aiming for the heads of Pittsburgh players, concussing two players and injuring another. They were being dirty which eventually led to this incident.
Garrett had already been fined $50,000 from a separate incident when he hit a Jets quarterback and punched a Titans player in the face. He is not new to being a dirty player. In his past, The New York Times quoted him saying, “If you don’t draft me No. 1, I will punish your team for the next 10 to 12 years, I’ll knock your QB out of the game every time we play you.” No one took what he said literally, but it soon became reality.
Some Governor Livingston athletes actually disagree with what Garrett did, even in the heat of the moment. Steven Manfreda, a freshman football player, thought Garrett’s actions were not justified. He said, “It was a cheap move to use [his helmet] as a weapon and didn’t have to step that far.”
Rocco Ditizo, a freshman offensive linemen, who has been playing football for seven years, said in response to Rudolph kicking Garrett in the groin, “I would push him off, not have gotten that angry.”
No incident, no matter how severe, should cause a man to assault his opponent. Although no man should kick and grab at another man, football is a contact sport. One must be willing to take a beating, while also having to give one out. These beatings must come within the confinement of the rules of the game. In the NFL, one must tackle and hit within the whistle even if someone says or does something after the fact.
Garrett is a grown man, and nothing should lead to such disgusting behavior and conduct by one player. He is in the NFL because of his ability to play, but he will not last much longer in the NFL if he does not learn self control.
Many people think that Pouncey should not be suspended at all, since it was just in defense. “I could see it, but I think he went too far with the punching and kicking. I would have gone after Garrett and react similarly but not as harsh.” Ditizio said.
Although nothing good has come out of this fight, it was good to see Pouncey stand up for Rudolph. A one game suspension for engaging in a fight is reasonable. As for Garrett, such a malicious act warrants the NFL’s year long suspension.