‘He has to answer for that’ – Steelers shocked by helmet swing of Browns’ Myles Garrett
CLEVELAND — There was anger, there was a sense of standing up for a teammate, and there even was an air of pending restitution. But perhaps the most prominent feeling of all in the Pittsburgh Steelers locker room about a half hour after Myles Garrett’s helmet swing at Mason Rudolph was one of shock.
“I have never seen anything like that,” cornerback Joe Haden said, “especially when a player doesn’t have a helmet on — and it’s your quarterback.”
— Charles Palla (@ChazPalla) November 15, 2019
Rudolph said he hadn’t seen an on-field incident like that in his football career, either. Rudolph called it “cowardly and bush league.”
Teammate Mark Barron used another word.
“Bull——,” the Steelers linebacker said. “And I’ll just leave it at that. Bull——. I’ll just leave it exactly like that, because that’s exactly what it was. Not much else to be said about that.”
Coach Mike Tomlin chose exactly that route — not saying anything.
“I’ll keep my thoughts to myself,” Tomlin said.
“I have no comment,” he added after a follow-up.
When a reporter tried a third inquiry, Tomlin had enough.
“No more questions regarding that because I am saying nothing.”
Steelers QB Mason Rudolph reacts to being ask about whether Myles Garrett should be suspended by calling his hit “bush league” and “cowardly.” pic.twitter.com/2n9YfUgwi7
— Kevin Gorman (@KGorman_Trib) November 15, 2019
Not all of Tomlin’s players, though, bit their tongues.
“For someone to use a helmet as a weapon is uncalled for,” Steelers defensive captain Cameron Heyward said.
“I don’t know how he got to the point that it’s OK to use a helmet as a weapon.”
Haden was a teammate of Garrett’s for about four months in 2017 after Garrett was drafted No. 1 overall and before the Browns released Haden in late August of that year. Haden called Garrett “ a good dude” and remarked how emotional a win against the Steelers is for the Browns, who were winless in their past nine against their Turnpike rivals.
But Haden still was incredulous at Garrett’s actions.
“That’s not OK,” Haden said.
What should Myles Garrett’s punishment be?? This is gross for our league! pic.twitter.com/hXqfOEhnx5
— Bruce Gradkowski (@bgradkowski5) November 15, 2019
The Steelers generally took the politically correct route in regards to calling for what will almost certainly be a suspension levied on Garrett by the NFL.
“I will let the commissioner choose (discipline),” Haden said. “It’s not my job I don’t know, but something (needs done). We all talk about player safety, and that was… that was… that was crazy.”
The Steelers might also be without a Pro Bowl-level player as a result of the incident. Triggered by Garrett’s helmet swing, center Maurkice Pouncey lunged toward Garrett, swung his fist at him multiple times and even kicked toward Garrett as Garrett lied on the ground.
“At this point, who cares?” Pouncey said of any league discipline. “My man got hit in the head with a helmet. I’ll accept whatever penalty it is.
“At this point it’s bigger than football.”
Guard David DeCastro was arguably more central to the whole sequence than anyone else; he took on something of a peacekeeping role between Garrett, Rudolph, Pouncey and Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, the latter of whom shoved Rudolph to the ground as the melee was escalating.
Rudolph acknowledged his role in the altercation, saying he “felt like I had a bone to pick with him after what he did.”
On whole, though, the Steelers recognized that above all other actions during the sequence, Garrett’s swing of Rudolph’s helmet at Rudolph’s bare head was the most inexcusable and the one above all that the NFL needs to levy discipline for.
“That’s just reckless,” DeCastro said of Garrett’s swing. “The whole nation will be watching to see how (the NFL) handles it.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .