Revisiting the Myles Garrett-Mason Rudolph helmet incident on ‘Thursday Night Football’

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Myles Garrett will never live down his fight with Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph on November 14, 2019, and more specifically, his decision to swing a helmet at Rudolph in a moment of rage.

His NFL legacy is in some ways already sealed regardless of how many career sacks he accumulates. He’s the player who used an opponent’s helmet as a weapon in primetime football action.

When the Browns, who drafted Garrett No. 1 overall in 2017, face the Bengals on Thursday, his infamous attack will almost certainly be recounted by TV broadcasters. After all, the scrap with Pittsburgh took place on “Thursday Night Football” last season.

Garrett served a lengthy suspension following the Browns-Steelers brawl. He’s back this year, though, and expected to be entering his prime as a pass rusher.

The defensive end told Cleveland.com last week that he almost quit the NFL over the fallout of the helmet swing but decided to keep playing in part because “fame is fleeting, athletic ability is fleeting and you have to make the most of it while it’s here.”

Below is a detailed walkthrough of what happened between Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph:

What happened between Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph?

With 16 seconds left in an otherwise dull Thursday night game between the Steelers and Browns last November, Garrett took down Rudolph as Rudolph released a garbage time screen pass. The duo tangled on the ground before getting up and jawing at one another behind the line of scrimmage. Garrett ripped off Rudolph’s helmet as they continued to go at it, and then slammed the helmet down toward Rudolph’s head. It did not connect as directly as intended, but the damage could have been severe.

Several Pittsburgh offense linemen reacted by tackling Garrett to the ground and throwing punches and kicks at him. Browns players arrived to the scene late, not noticing the incident until Garrett was already on the ground, and entered the fray. A whopping 33 players would be fined by the NFL for their part in the altercation.

“That’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen on a professional sports field,” said announcer Joe Buck while calling the incident.

It had been a chippy game throughout — Browns defensive back Damarious Randall had been ejected for an illegal hit earlier — but a fight of that scale caught people by surprise.

Afterward, a reporter asked Rudolph whether Garrett should be suspended. Rudolph didn’t want to comment on how the NFL should handle things, but he did get in a couple of parting verbal shots.

“I know it’s bush league, and I know it’s a total coward move on his part,” Rudolph said.

How long did the NFL suspend Myles Garrett?

The NFL suspended Garrett indefinitely after the game. Garrett did not play again in 2019 following the Week 10 incident.

Garrett was reinstated by the league during the offseason.

How many games did Myles Garrett miss?

Garrett missed the final six games of the 2019 season. He had been one of he NFL’s best defensive players before his suspension, recording 10 sacks in 10 games.

Garrett has 30.5 career sacks.

Did Mason Rudolph use a racial slur toward Myles Garrett?

Garrett has on multiple occasions claimed he swung the helmet in response to Rudolph using a racial slur. Rudolph has repeatedly denied the accusation, and an NFL investigation found no evidence to support it.

That said, the only players near the start of the incident were members of the Steelers, and the very start of the fight included just Rudolph and Garrett. So, it’s difficult to determine with absolute certainty what actually happened.

A meme came out of Myles Garrett’s helmet swing

Adam Schefter, probably the most well-known reporter in the NFL community, joined the mass reaction to Garrett’s helmet swing last November with a one-word tweet:

Keep in mind that thousands of people get notifications to their phone whenever Schefter sends out a tweet because of the amount of NFL news he breaks. The pop-up notification simply reading “assault” was jarring for followers who were not keeping up with the Browns-Steelers contest.

People also found Schefter’s tweet comical for its unique mix of brevity and over-the-top drama. It currently has more than 70,000 likes and 10,000 retweets on Twitter, making it one of his most popular posts.

Ever since that night, fans have taken to trolling Schefter by replying “assault” to most of his tweets, even if the message doesn’t make sense in the new context. Screenshots of his tweet are also sometimes used on social media as reactions to particularly vicious sports highlights such as posterizing dunks, hard NFL hits and home runs.

When was Myles Garrett drafted?

Garrett was the first-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He was taken ahead of superstars such as Jamal Adams, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.

It could have been much worse for the Browns, though. The Bears took Mitch Trubisky with their No. 2 selection, the Jaguars took Leonard Fournette at No. 4 and the Titans took Corey Davis at No. 5. Each of those choices were far worse than Garrett, who has been a reliable double-digit sack force since entering the NFL.

What team does Mason Rudolph play for?

Rudolph is still a member of the Steelers and is currently serving as the backup quarterback to Ben Roethlisberger. Rudolph was a third-round draft pick out of Oklahoma State in 2018.