Browns defensive end Myles Garrett was for hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with his own helmet, while Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was handed a three-game suspension and Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi a one-game suspension. Rudolph is likely to be fined for his role in the brawl, but appears to have avoided a suspension.
While everyone agrees Garrett's actions on Thursday night were unacceptable, many were upset that Rudolph was not included among the suspended. He was tabbed as the initiator of the fight, yet he was not punished like others.
"It was ugly. It was ugly for the game of football," Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of the fight on Tuesday. "All of us want to safeguard and protect the game, it's integrity, and in that instance it was compromised, obviously with the unfortunate incident. None of want those things to transpire. It did. We were a part of it. We accept responsibility for our actions within it."
Tomlin disagrees with the notion that his quarterback started the brawl, and when asked during his press conference how to prevent another incident like this one, he responded, "I don't know. You've got to ask those guys. You, know, I don't know that we did anything to make it happen anyway in the first place. That's why I said we didn't have anything to learn from it."
On the play in question, Garrett took Rudolph down to the turf after he released the ball. Rudolph then started pulling on Garrett's helmet, trying to pry it off as he was laying underneath him. Garrett responded by ripping Rudolph's helmet off, and Rudolph then pursued him. That's when the helmet swinging occurred.
Tomlin had a chance to pin some of the blame of Thursday's melee on Rudolph, but he elected to stick by his quarterback. Many head coaches would do the same thing.
There's no debate that both players were in the wrong on Thursday night. Rudolph was no saint. Garrett's actions, however, were way over the top.