Myles Garrett brought controversy with him as he began his NFL career. Mere minutes after being drafted by the Browns, Garrett made his intentions known when asked which quarterback he was most excited to face as a professional.
"Big Ben is a Super Bowl winner and I heard he's hard to take down," Garrett said, via Cleveland.com. "So, I'm coming for him first, (to) chop him down."
While his comments weren't over the top, the media ran with it, and so did Garrett, who said that Ben Roethlisberger was "just another guy" before he faced the Steelers for the first time in 2017. But Garrett's talk was just that, talk. While he's clearly not afraid to offer a controversial headline, Garrett wasn't considered a dirty player coming out of Texas A&M, where he developed into an All-American before becoming the first-overall pick in the 2017 draft. Even before Thursday night's Steelers-Browns game, when Mason Rudolph with Rudolph's own helmet, Garrett was not considered a dirty player that would draw comparisons to Vontaze Burfict, who may never play again after his cost him the remainder of the 2019 season.
That being said, Garrett has had several incidents during his brief NFL career that have crossed the line. This season alone, Garrett has been involved in several controversial incidents that could be considered dirty.
Myles Garrett, 2019 dirty plays— Kevin Boilard (@247KevinBoilard) November 15, 2019
Week 1: Punched Titans TE Delanie Walker after whistle
Week 2: Ended Jets QB Trevor Siemian's season on late hit
Week 11: Struck Steelers QB Mason Rudolph over head with helmet@NFL should suspend him for the rest of season #Browns pic.twitter.com/Uf3hi5K4L7
Garrett was fined $42,112 for two roughing the passer penalties during the Browns' win over the Jets, while his altercation with Delanie Walker in Week 1 rendered a $10,527 fine. While those are the only recorded fines Garrett has received in his career, he has had a tendency to make hits that have led to unnecessary penalties.
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On several occasions this season, members of the Browns' coaching staff have talked about helping Garrett find the line between playing physical and playing reckless.
"For the last probably three or four years, there has been a point of emphasis with the quarterback and the safety in the National Football League, which I agree with totally. We just have to be smarter and understand by being in that position right here," Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks said earlier this season, via Camryn Justice of News 5 Cleveland. "Sometimes it is just getting our hands up or maybe shoving the guy and doing this (places his hands up) instead of just trying to take him to the ground."
Garrett, shortly after his actions during Cleveland's win over the Jets, defended his style of play. He doesn't think that he should be labeled as a dirty player.
"I know who I am and the guys within these walls know who I am and that's not me," Garrett said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. "I'm not going to do anything to try and hurt this team or take out any player outside the rule book. I'm just going to keep playing this game the way it's supposed to be played and that's violently but passionately."
While Garrett had been limiting his unnecessary hits (and his extra curricular barbs with opposing offenses) as of late, something happened that cause him to strike Rudolph in the head with his own helmet on Thursday night. Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said that he spoke to Garrett about what led to the incident but said that he will keep the specifics of his conversation with Garrett to himself.
Regardless, it's clear that Garrett has been playing at or beyond the line of what's legal and what isn't legal in the NFL for quite some time. It's now going to cost him -- and his team -- in the form of a lengthy suspension.