CLEVELAND, Ohio — Myles Garrett apologized Friday for ripping off Mason Rudolph’s helmet and clubbing him in the head with it after the two scuffled late in Thursday night’s 21-7 victory over the Steelers.
“Last night, I made a terrible mistake,’’ he said in a statement provided by the Browns. “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.”
Garrett has been suspended indefinitely without pay by the NFL, but at least for the final six games of this season and any postseason. He’s also been fined by the NFL and has three days to appeal, which he will do. Garrett must apply for reinstatement with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Browns defensive end Larry Ogunjobi was suspended one game for shoving Rudolph down from behind after he was hit in the head, and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was suspended three games for punching and kicking Myles Garrett in the helmet in retaliation.
The Steelers and Browns were also fined $250,000 each.
Garrett will not be permitted to be with the Browns during his suspension, and also robbed himself of the chance to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year and the league’s sack title. He’s tied for fourth in the NFL with 10 sacks.
Garrett went to the Browns facility on Friday morning to meet with coach Freddie Kitchens and other team officials, and to apologize to the teammates in the building at that time.
“Myles and I visited for a long time this morning,’’ Kitchens said on a conference call. “On a personal level, that’s what I want from Myles is to understand that the ball is in his court on how he responds to this. It’s up to him on showing people and showing the National Football League that that’s not who he is. You’re looking at a guy who’s a tremendous asset as a teammate, in the entire organization and to our fans.
“He is always out in the community and doing things for the community. He is a good teammate. He just lost his cool. He lost his composure. A terrible mistake, and sometimes things like that carry on with someone.’’
Left guard Joel Bitonio appreciated Garrett taking responsibility for his actions.
“He just wanted to apologize to us,’’ said Bitonio. “He says that he’s going to prove to us that it was just one incident on his radar and that he’s going to strive every day to be a better person and show us that this is not his true character and that he feels like he had let us down obviously because he is not going to be out there with us on gamedays.”
Bitonio acknowledged the loss of Garrett, the Browns’ best defensive player, is enormous.
“Yeah, it’s tough,’’ he said. “He was playing like a possible Defensive Player of the Year candidate and that is what I think everyone knows him as. He is a guy that gets after the quarterback, plays the run well. He’s a great player. It’s tough.
"Anytime you lose a guy to injury, to suspension or to anything of that nature, it is something that you have to try and fill that spot. It might not be just one guy. We might need to pick someone up. We might need to rotate some guys in there to keep some more fresh bodies. It is tough when you lose your best defender.”
Garrett received three items of good news on Friday in the wake of his indefinite ban: the Browns are standing firmly behind him, Chris Long is keeping him on as NFL Chairman of Waterboys.org, the charitable foundation that provides clean water to the poor, and Rudolph has decided not to pursue legal action Garrett.
“Myles is very, very remorseful, and we’re going to stand behind Myles,’’ Kitchens said on a conference call Friday, hours after the suspension was handed down by the NFL. “We do not condone in any way what happened, but we’re going to stand behind Myles as a person. Like I told you guys, we consider ourselves a family. When someone is hurting and someone is feeling like this, we’re going to stand behind him.”
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