Source: Garrett appeal points to 2013 Smith ban


Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett used a precedent-based argument on Wednesday during his suspension appeal hearing, citing the NFL’s punishment of a former Houston Texans player in 2013, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

Five days after being suspended indefinitely for ripping off Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph‘s helmet and clubbing him in the head with it, Garrett and the NFLPA met with league officials Wednesday morning in New York.

Garrett and the NFLPA contended, the source told Graziano, that the worst punishment any player received for a similar incident was Houston’s Antonio Smith, who was suspended in 2013 for two preseason games and one regular-season game for swinging his helmet at then-Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito.

The NFL suspended Garrett for the remainder of this season, including any potential postseason games, and announced last Friday that he will have to meet with the commissioner’s office before being reinstated for 2020.

Garrett argued that six games — the remainder of the regular season — is excessive under the precedent established by Smith’s suspension, especially because Smith only missed one game check since players aren’t paid for preseason games, the source told Graziano.

Garrett and the NFLPA also argued that an indefinite suspension is not permitted under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, according to the source.

Meanwhile, a representative of the Steelers joined Maurkice Pouncey‘s appeal hearing by phone Tuesday in support of the center, who was suspended three games.

A source told Graziano that the Steelers believe Pouncey received the three-game ban in order to avoid him playing in the Week 13 rematch against the Browns.

According to Graziano, Pouncey’s side contends that no other on-field fight in NFL history has resulted in a suspension longer than one game, so that would have been an appropriate punishment.

Even if reduced from three games to two on appeal, Pouncey’s suspension would still run through the Steelers’ second game against the Browns.

Garrett’s hearing started at approximately 9:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning, and the Pro Bowl defensive end was seen leaving less than two hours later. A source told ESPN’s Dianna Russini that the NFL wants to make a decision quickly on Garrett’s appeal.

Browns coach Freddie Kitchens reiterated his support for Garrett earlier Wednesday morning but acknowledged that the team has no “control” over whether the league reduces his suspension.

“We can’t control that. … We’re just gonna control what we can control,” Kitchens said. “We have nothing to do with that. Myles has great representation, but more importantly, Myles will represent himself well.”

Rudolph called Garrett’s actions “bush league” and “cowardly” during his postgame news conference after Pittsburgh’s 21-7 loss to Cleveland last Thursday night.

But the second-year quarterback said Wednesday that he regretted his role in the brawl, saying he “should’ve done a better job handling that situation.”

“I have no ill will towards Myles Garrett,” said Rudolph, who was not suspended but is expected to be fined. “Great respect for his ability as a player. And I know that if Myles could go back, he would handle the situation differently.

“As for my involvement last week, there’s no acceptable excuse. The bottom line is I should’ve done a better job keeping my composure in that situation and [not] fall short of what I believe it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and a member of the NFL.”

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