The NFL made its official and final ruling on Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett on Thursday, upholding his indefinite suspension for hitting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with a helmet.
Former NFL wide receiver James Thrash is the appeals officer for on-field player discipline and dealt with Garrett’s appeal process along with Derrick Brooks. They were jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFLPA.
Thrash tweeted out a statement on the decision to uphold the suspension, apparently after being inundated with messages from fans questioning his choice.
“Please stop tweeting me about the decision,” Thrash wrote. “This was a grueling process and the outcome is final. Player safety is what’s most important !!!”
On top of lost pay, Garrett was fined $45,623 for the fight. More fines are expected for other players, including Rudolph, who avoided any suspension.
Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi had his 1-game suspension upheld on Wednesday. Additionally, Steelers offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey — who punched and kicked Garrett while he was on the ground — had his suspension reduced from three games to two for his role in the brawl.
Thrash played in the NFL from 1998-2008 with the Eagles and Redskins. He had previously worked with players on finances and continuing education and then spent three years on the NFL’s player engagement staff.
Brooks played 14 seasons in the NFL, making the Pro Bowl 11 times and winning Super Bowl XXVII with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Browns Focused on Next Man Up Mentality
It was assumed that the chance of Garrett returning this season for the Browns was slim, so the team has taken on a “next man up” mentality going forward.
“Other guys have to step up,” Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks said Thursday. “They are not canceling the season. We got to find a way to compensate for these losses and we will find a way to get it done.”
In Garrett’s absence, Chad Thomas and Chris Smith will be relied on, especially if Pro Bowler Olivier Vernon misses a third consecutive game with a knee injury. Inside, Devaroe Lawrence will see an uptick in responsibility with Ogunjobi sidelined.
“I go into this week expecting the best that they have. I think if we get that, that is a bonus for us,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters Thursday. “We need to play well. Everybody up there needs to play well. They would not be on this team if we did not have confidence in them to do that. I expect them to play well. They expect it out of themselves.”
NFL Finds No Evidence of Mason Rudolph Racial Slur
Shortly before the ruling on Garrett came down, a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Josina Anderson revealed that Garrett’s appeal alleged that Rudolph called him a racial slur prior to their fight.
After the ruling on Garrett was announced, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league looked into Garrett’s allegations that Mason Rudolph used a racial slur last Thursday night before the brawl “and found no such evidence,” according to Schefter.
As former Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas pointed out, there were many ways for the NFL to look into the issue, with multiple players likely being mic’d up for the rivalry contest.