The NFL reinstated Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett from the indefinite suspension he served at the end of the last season for his role in an ugly brawl with the Pittsburgh Steelers, during which Garrett removed the helmet of quarterback Mason Rudolph and used it to strike Rudolph in the head.
Wednesday’s reinstatement announcement came two days after Garrett met in New York with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league representatives. The league then reviewed whether Garrett complied fully with the terms of his reinstatement, including the requirement that he undergo counseling.
Garrett’s reinstatement means that he is eligible to participate in offseason workouts with the Browns beginning in April. He missed the final six games of the Browns’ 2019 season.
“We welcome Myles back to our organization with open arms,” Andrew Berry, the Browns’ newly hired general manager, said in a written statement posted on the team’s website. “We know he is grateful to be reinstated, eager to put the past behind him and continue to evolve and grow as a leader. We look forward to having his strong positive presence back as a teammate, player and person in our community.”
The six-game suspension was the second-longest in NFL history for an on-field incident. The league suspended linebacker Vontaze Burfict from the Oakland Raiders’ final 12 games of last season for an illegal hit, based on Burfict being a repeat offender. Garrett’s suspension was without pay and cost him $1.14 million of his $3.23 million salary for the season.
He also was fined $45,623. Appeals officer James Thrash upheld both the suspension and the fine following a hearing in which Garrett alleged that Rudolph directed a racial slur at him, according to multiple people familiar with the case. Rudolph denied the accusation and the NFL said at the time it had found no evidence that Rudolph used a slur.
The melee occurred late in the Browns’ triumph Nov. 14 over the Steelers in Cleveland, and began when Garrett hit Rudolph after Rudolph delivered a throw on a play. With the two players on the turf, Rudolph grabbed at Garrett’s helmet and appeared to attempt to pull it from Garrett’s head. Garrett managed to pull Rudolph’s helmet off and, when the players were back on their feet, swung the helmet and struck Rudolph in the head with it.
Rudolph was fined $50,000 and was among the 33 players disciplined by the NFL for the incident. Of that total, 29 players were fined $3,507 each for entering a fighting area. The fines for the fracas totaled $732,422, including fines of the Browns and Steelers of $250,000 each. That figure does not include the lost salaries of the three players given unpaid suspensions by the NFL. The Browns’ Larry Ogunjobi was suspended for one game. The Steelers’ Maurkice Pouncey had his three-game suspension reduced to two games on appeal.
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