We all woke up on Friday morning surprised that the headlines from Thursday Night Football weren’t the result. The main news was the fracas caused by Myles Garrett late in the game. The video caused a similar shock level to the Andrew Luck retirement. For myself it was a slightly odd experience.
Having watched the YouTube highlights ‘blind’ on Friday morning (which unsurprisingly didn’t show the incident), it was a bit confusing to see social media obsessed with the fight rather than the game.
The NFL was swift in it’s response. After such an ugly fight, on prime time television, it is hardly surprising. Viewers saw a player, a Quarterback no less, being picked up by the helmet and then hit on their unprotected head. The NFL simply had to get out in front of it. They have some wiggle room with the indefinite suspension. The six game minimum that ensures they won’t have the PR nightmare of Garrett being on the field this season.
Will the appeal be successful?
On Wednesday the NFLPA will lead the appeal against the decision. There’s nothing untoward about that, they have to represent all players and this is the second longest on-field suspension ever. The main basis of the appeal is that players can’t be suspended indefinitely for on-field discipline. That’s according to league rules agreed in the CBA.
However, the league argues that Garrett’s actions were so egregious and were long after the play. The appeal opens the possibility of the suspension being reduced. In my opinion, the most likely outcome is that the suspension is a specific number of names and the word indefinite is removed.
If they do, the NFL may well choose to suspend Garrett to start next season. Ironically, strictly from a PR point of view, allowing Garrett to return in week one may be the best option. This would mean that his return is simply a competing headline with the rest of the season previews. The downside is the clip of Garrett swinging the helmet would be used throughout the build up to the season. It’s another matter whether that is a big enough punishment for the crime.
Garrett effectively attacked a defenceless player, outside of play with a weapon, inciting one of the bigger fights in recent NFL history. The coverage of Myles Garrett has actually meant Maurkice Pouncey’s three game suspension, and other punishments from the melee have gone under the radar.
Did the NFL get it right? Probably. Garrett is one of the NFL’s young superstars so the league will want him back on the field ASAP. Without a record of prior offences, it is hard to compare it to Vontaze Burfict’s 12-game suspension. The book has well and truly been thrown at Garrett. and the NFL are aware that it will more than likely be negotiated down by the NFLPA on appeal.
Myles Garrett must now live with the bad side of prime time: the infamy. Thursday night’s game had 12 million viewers, nearly the highest all season for TNF. Non-primetime games usually attract a Nielsen rating of 6-8. With more eyes on the screen, Garrett has a reputation as that guy that even casual fans of the NFL will now know.
Given the circumstances, there’s no surprise Garrett got such a hefty punishment. Given the wording of the league rules, I think it’s likely that Garrett is not suspended indefinitely. The league may increase the suspension to eight to ten games in response. The NFL will want Garrett to come back and dominate, creating quite the villain and redemption story. For now though, the NFL need to be seen punishing the man wielding a helmet.
Image: NBC News