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15 Nov, 2019 17:52

'Unprecedented penalties': NFL issues mammoth fines and suspensions following Browns-Steelers melee

'Unprecedented penalties': NFL issues mammoth fines and suspensions following Browns-Steelers melee

Several players, including Myles Garrett, have been hit with fines and lengthy suspensions from the NFL after the on-field brawl which marred Thursday night's game between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Both the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers organizations were hit with the fines following the incident which occurred with just eight seconds remaining in the game in First Energy Stadium late on Thursday.

The chaos saw Browns' Pro Bowl edge rusher Myles Garrett remove the helmet of opposition quarterback Mason Rudolph and swing it at his head following a physical confrontation between the two players. 

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Garrett has been suspended indefinitely without pay until at least the end of the season, and must meet with the league commissioner's office before he is cleared to return to the team.

Meanwhile, Garrett's teammate Larry Ogunjobi has been banned for one game after footage showed him pushing Rudolph to the ground as players from both teams engaged in a brawl.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has been suspended for three games, also without pay, after he punched and kicked Garrett in the head while the player was on the ground. 

In addition to the above, the NFL also announced that they will launch additional disciplinary proceedings against several players from both teams who left the bench to join in in the melee. 

Under the NFL's collective bargaining agreement, the fines and suspensions levied against the players can be appealed within three business days, which may be a line of inquiry for Ogunjobi and Pouncey. But one suspects that the sheer magnitude of Garrett's suspension means that any appeal would still rule him out for the remainder of the season.

The loss of the Browns' influential defensive end is a cruel, and entirely avoidable, blow to a team who had begun to find their form after a stop-start opening to the season.

Garrett is considered to be one of the most dominant defensive players in the league and was a top contender for Defensive Player of the Year honors. But those chances have almost certainly evaporated following his actions during Thursday night's game.

He released a statement in the wake of the suspension being announced in which he apologized for the incident.

"Last night, I made a terrible mistake," Garrett said. "I lost my cool and what I did was selfish and unacceptable. I know that we are all responsible for our actions and I can only prove my true character through my actions moving forward.

"I want to apologize to Mason Rudolph, my teammates, our entire organization, our fans and to the NFL. I know I have to be accountable for what happened, learn from my mistake and I fully intend to do so."

Dee and Jimmy Haslam, owners of the Cleveland Browns, also released a statement in the wake of the suspension announcement in which they deemed Garrett's actions "completely unacceptable". 

"We are extremely disappointed at what transpired at the end of last evening's game," their joint statement read.

"There is no place for that in football and that is not reflective of the core values we strive for as an organization.

"We sincerely apologize to Mason Rudolph and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Myles Garrett has been a good teammate and member of our organization and community for the last three years but his actions last night were completely unacceptable. We understand the consequences from the league for his actions."

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Both teams have a long and storied rivalry in the AFC North but rarely does it come to a fore in the extent that it did on Thursday, but given the furor which has followed this game all eyes will surely be on Heinz Field when the sides meet again in just a few weeks' time.

One suspects that the Steelers won't just have last night's 21-7 defeat as a source of motivation when they take to the field.