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Chaos in Cleveland: How the NFL Needs to Punish Their Players

With 14 seconds left, Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph completes an 11-yard pass to Trey Edmunds. The game is already over by now; the Browns are up 21-7. Browns defensive end Myles Garrett tackles and lands on Rudolph after the pass, but Rudolph believes it was a late hit.

Tensions were high this late in the game. This game was a part of Steelers-Browns rivalry, and it was an important one for Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Earlier in the year, when asked about facing OBJ twice a year now, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made a yawning gesture.

OBJ didn’t forget. After a 42-yard pass from Mayfield, OBJ pretends to yawn in the end zone. Jarvis Landry followed his lead and after a 1-yard TD, yawned in the end zone as well.

It was also a rough game for Rudolph. Before this play, Rudolph had 210 yards on 22/43 passing. He also had 4 interceptions; it wasn’t his day.

Steelers’ star JuJu Smith-Schuster also had to leave the game early after being ruled out with a concussion. With their problems compiling, the tension for both teams was rising.

After getting tackled by Garrett, Rudolph tries to rip the helmet off of his head while Pittsburgh players David DeCastro and Matt Feiler try to stop the altercation. Though, Garrett breaks free and takes Rudolph’s helmet. Even after getting his helmet taken away, Rudolph continues to approach Garrett, who swings the helmet, hitting Rudolph. It was a hard hit, but luckily, Rudolph is left without injuries.

This resulted in a chaotic scene in the FirstEnergy Stadium.

Steelers’ Maurkice Pouncey isn’t happy about this, so he runs to tackle Garrett, punching and kicking him even after he’s held down. Browns’ Larry Ogunjobi tackles Rudolph, and the sidelines clear while players from both teams storm the field. The referees throw flags pretending like that will stop the fight, but the fight cools down after a few minutes.

There were 8 seconds left in the game. Game ends: Browns 21-7.

Many NFL players reacted on social media to voice their opinions on the fight.

Most players’ comments were directed to Garrett. Fans and players alike expressed how this was assault with a deadly weapon and it was a disgrace to football. Rudolph and Pouncey didn’t face the same criticism for their part in the fight though. NFL players Keenan Allen and Deion Sanders praised Pouncey for fighting Garrett, calling him a “hero.”

Rudolph was “assaulted” and Pouncey was “just defending his quarterback,” but what Garrett did deserves “a record suspension.”

What Garrett did was ridiculous, and they’re right, it was assault. He was provoked, though. Rudolph started the fight, and not only did he start the fight, after getting his helmet taken away, he wanted to continue fighting Garrett.

One Hispanic saying that fits in well here is “No busques lo que no quieres encontrar,” or “Don’t look for what you don’t want to find.”

If Rudolph truly didn’t want to fight Garrett, he wouldn’t have continued to approach him after they were separated. Rudolph was likely frustrated after having a bad outing and losing to a rival, but what he did was not justified either.

Pouncey is not a “hero” either, because what he did was assault as well. Even after Garrett was held down, Pouncey was stomping and kicking him in the head, which could result in major injuries as well. Pouncey deserves a suspension just as long as Garrett.

Myles Garrett apologized for his ignorant actions, saying he “made a mistake.” Rudolph was not as apologetic. Rudolph said that what Garrett did was “a total coward move.” Rudolph also called Garrett a bully.

Pouncey did not apologize for his part in the fight either. He said that Garrett should be out for the season.

How come Garrett has to apologize, but everybody else is innocent?

This fight highlights a bigger problem in major sports though. Players in all four major American sports are able to get away with actions that would be unjustifiable in the real world.

Back in 2004, the NBA had its most infamous fight of all time. Titled “The Malice at the Palace,” Pistons and Pacers players got into a fight that led to nine players being suspended for 146 total games. The fight was so huge that it even involved fans with five fans being banned from attending Pistons home games and facing criminal charges.

Five players were sentenced to a year of probation and community service.

How come the players faced significantly less charges than the fans?

Even if what Garrett did was assault, he won’t face any charges that would be close to what a regular person would get. Players in major sports are able to get away with these on-field actions because of their wealth and standing. These leagues need to fix their system so that their punishments reflect the actions that they are punishing.

After everything, Ogunjobi was suspended for one game, Pouncey was suspended for three games, and Garrett was suspended indefinitely, with the minimum of being suspended for the rest of the season and playoffs. Rudolph was not suspended.

This game was full of unnecessary mistakes, including the fight. Rudolph, Garrett, and Pouncey should all be suspended for the rest of the year and face fines. The NFL shouldn’t have these fights on display for the world to see because it is a bad look for the entire league. They should make a statement with this fight and suspend everyone to show every player that actions like this won’t be tolerated. Since the chaos has subsided, it is clear that the Steelers won the fight. Because they don’t have to live in Cleveland.

One Response to “Chaos in Cleveland: How the NFL Needs to Punish Their Players”

  1. David Pugh says:

    I respect your perspective and appreciate your candor!

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