BEREA — Receiver Jarvis Landry is troubled by how the NFL handled the punishment for the brawl against the Steelers.
Not only did defensive end Myles Garrett’s indefinite suspension get upheld — he’ll miss at least the rest of thE season, including the playoffs — defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi’s one-game suspension stood. Meanwhile, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey had a three-game suspension reduced to two following an appeal.
“I still do feel like the league handled the process too quickly, made a decision too quickly,” Landry said Friday. “It’s almost like deliberately trying to mess with Cleveland. You know?”
Landry was particularly upset that Pouncey’s punishment was reduced while Garrett’s and Ogunjobi’s stood. Pouncey punched and kicked Garrett while he lay on the ground. Ogunjobi knocked Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph to the ground after Rudolph and Garrett fought.
“So it makes no sense,” Landry said. “(Ogunjobi) should be playing this week.
“Then you have a guy who’s involved and pretty much instigated the whole thing, and nothing happens to him.”
He was referring to Rudolph, who is expected to be fined but wasn’t suspended.
He tried to pull off Garrett’s helmet and tried to push him off with his foot in Garrett’s crotch. That doesn’t include Garrett’s accusation that Rudolph called him a racial slur before the brawl, which happened with eight seconds left in Cleveland’s 21-7 win and included Garrett hitting Rudolph over the head with Rudolph’s helmet after ripping it off.
Garrett made the serious allegation Wednesday during his appeal hearing. The accusation was leaked Thursday, Rudolph “vehemently denied” it and the NFL said it found “no such evidence.”
Garrett released a statement standing by his charge.
“I know what I heard,” he said, adding that what was said in the appeal was supposed to remain private.
Garrett’s critics attacked him for waiting nearly a week to divulge the alleged racial slur. Garrett had a long meeting with coach Freddie Kitchens the day after the brawl, and the organization fully supported him after the controversy Thursday.
“I am not revealing anything that Myles and I talked about,” Kitchens reiterated Friday. “But I will say this about Myles’ character: If he tells me something, I am going to believe it.”
He offered an explanation for Garrett not making the charge public.
“If it were me, I would not want that to be seen as an excuse for anything that Myles did, and I am pretty sure Myles feels the same way,” Kitchens said. “That would be the only reason.”
Running back Kareem Hunt alluded to there being more to the story during an interview after the game against the Steelers. He said Friday he’s talked to Garrett but “it’s between me and him.”
“I’m trying to move past the situation, it’s over now,” Hunt said. “Myles, no matter what he said to him, it’s not going to make it any better. Myles has got to do his time and just stay positive, don’t beat yourself up about it. He’s a great guy.”
Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was asked why Garrett would wait to make the accusation about Rudolph.
“I wouldn’t know why. People have their own reasons why not to tell stuff like that,” he said. “Myles was probably disappointed in himself for doing all that. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Richardson believes Garrett.
“I don’t think he would lie about nothing like that, even in the situation that he’s in,” he said.
Richardson had held out hope Garrett would be allowed to play again this year.
“They ended up doing it, so tough luck,” he said.
Garrett’s helmet swing and strike drew the harshest punishment for a one-time on-field incident in NFL history. After sitting out the rest of this season and forfeiting $1.14 million, he must meet with the commissioner’s office before being reinstated.
According to an NFL Network report, if the league extends the suspension into the 2020 season, Garrett can appeal again.
“I have no idea how they really handled the process but just looking at it, it’s like they wanted to put it to bed early and make an example,” Landry said of the suspension, which was announced about 12 hours after the brawl. “I think the process wasn’t handled appropriately. They expedited the process based on the video footage and based on the reaction of the world.
“In other sports, the severity of the penalty for guys using their equipment as a weapon is less severe than what Myles did.”
If Garrett serves six games, it would be 37.5 percent of a season. That’s not unprecedented in other sports — Marty McSorley was suspended for a year and never played again in the NHL — but it’s substantial. The equivalency is 31 games in the NBA or NHL’s 82-game seasons and 61 in baseball’s 162.
“It’s about I guess protecting the shield and protecting the brand and all of that,” Landry said. “I just think that it was something that no one has seen as far as the use of a helmet, but fights and all of this stuff, they occur all the time in NFL games. I think just being prime time, national stage.”
The Garrett story isn’t going away anytime soon, but the Browns are trying to push forward.
“I will make one more comment on this: Myles Garrett admitted what he did wrong, took full responsibility in everything he has done since Thursday and handled everything properly,” Kitchens said. “With that being said, again, we are moving on to Miami. We have a game in two days that we are playing against Miami. That is the only thing that concerns us and this football team.”