The NFL has never seen anything like the ugly fight between the Browns and Steelers, and blame is flying in all directions

mason rudolph myles garrett 2David Richard/APMason Rudolph and Myles Garrett got into an ugly brawl on Thursday.David Richard/AP

  • The fight between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, in which Myles Garrett swung a helmet at Mason Rudolph's head, is one of the ugliest on-field incidents in league history.
  • The NFL suspended Garrett for at least the rest of the season, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey three games, Browns DT Larry Ogunjobi one game, and fined both organizations $250,000.
  • In the wake of the incident, many are blaming everyone involved, from Garrett to Browns coach Freddie Kitchens, to Rudolph for provoking the fight.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The fight between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of "Thursday Night Football" has thrown the NFL into chaos.

With just seconds remaining in what had been an ugly game, Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and Browns defensive end Myles Garrett got into a scuffle after a hit.

What resulted was Garrett ripping off Rudolph's helmet, Rudolph charging Garrett, and Garrett swinging the helmet and hitting Rudolph in the head. Rudolph was enraged and backed off, while two Steelers players tackled Garrett and began punching him. Three players were ejected.

On Friday, the NFL announced that Garrett is suspended indefinitely, ending his season. Browns' DT Larry Ogunjobi was suspended one game for shoving Rudolph from behind. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was suspended three games for punching Garrett afterward.

The Browns and Steelers were each fined $250,000.

Across the NFL world, from players to analysts, there is an agreement that the incident was one of the ugliest and most unique in NFL history. As a result, there are fingers being pointed in every direction.

A larger punishment for Garrett

myles garrettDavid Richard/APMyles Garrett.David Richard/AP

The NFL specifically has a rule against using the helmet as a weapon and swinging it at players.

But Garrett's swinging of the helmet was ugly for other reasons. First, Rudolph is only a few games removed from a scary incident that saw him get knocked out cold on the field from a helmet-to-helmet hit. He missed two games with a concussion and returned in Week 8. Luckily, he did not suffer any injuries from Garrett's actions, but the situation would have been scarier if he had gotten concussed again or even knocked out.

Garrett, the 2017 No. 1 pick and an admired defender, has also been fined twice this season, once for punching Tennesee Titans tight end Delanie Walker and a second time for two late hits to New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian.

Some had been calling for Garrett's season to be over.

ESPN's Kevin Seifert wrote the NFL "must issue the longest suspension for a single on-field act in its history." Seifert argued that while there have been other similar or worse hits in NFL history, they came in the game-flow action, whereas Garrett's did not. Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the season after a helmet-to-helmet hit in Week 4. Seifert said Garrett's penalty should exceed that.

Others have suggested that Garrett committed a crime.

ESPN's Booger McFarland argued on "Get Up" on Friday that Rudolph and the Steelers should file charges. As of Friday morning, Cleveland police said no charges had been filed.

A larger issue with the Browns

freddie kitchensDavid Richard)Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens.David Richard)

Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens has even taken some criticism for the brawl on Thursday.

The Browns are the most undisciplined team in the league, leading the NFL in penalties. Not all of those are from violent hits, of course, but some felt that it was an indication that the Browns lack discipline and leadership.

"What type of environment is being fostered by the head coach?" ESPN analyst and former NFL player Damien Woody said on Friday. "I understand that Myles Garrett is his own man and he's going to be responsible for what he did ... What is going on as far as the environment, as far as discipline, being undisciplined, by the Cleveland Browns?"

Coincidentally, Fox's Erin Andrews reported early in the game that Kitchens had told his team, "Control your emotions." It didn't work.

Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster left the game with a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit in which three Browns players swarmed to the ball. Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson left the game with a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit that left him bleeding from his ears. Damarious Randall was ejected for the hit, which ESPN's Louis Riddick called a "classic earhole shot," a now-banned hit in the NFL.

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported on Friday that a high-level opposing executive said the game looked like a "bounty game."

"If the league is serious, they should fine the Browns $5 million and fine [coach Freddie Kitchens] $500,000. That was like a bounty game," the source told Florio. "There were so many unnecessary flagrant hits, and then the cherry on top."

Mason Rudolph is not blameless, either

Rudolph, of course, was the victim of the scariest incident in the brawl. But many have noted he also provoked the fight by going after Garrett first and trying to rip off his helmet.

ESPN's Max Kellerman argued that Rudolph should be suspended one game. ESPN analyst and former Steelers safety Ryan Clark said Rudolph provoked the fight.

Many others in the NFL world have agreed.

Rudolph did not get suspended, but the NFL's statement on the initial punishments said there could be more punishments coming from those involved in the brawl.

As the NFL deals with the fallout, the league and its games are once again overshadowed by other incidents. The Week 11 games were set to be overshadowed by a quarterback who claimed the league blackballed him getting a workout to try to get back into the league. Now, the attention has been stolen by one of the ugliest on-field incidents and harshest suspensions in recent memory.
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