KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The NFL on Friday morning handed down an indefinite suspension for Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett following a violent on-the-field skirmish at the end of Thursday night's game, but former teammate Austin Reiter says that's not the person he got to know in Cleveland.
The Chiefs starting center was teammates with Garrett during the defensive end's rookie season in 2017. He remembers Garrett as a kind-hearted teammate who enjoys writing poetry and playing '70s and '80s tunes in the locker room before practice.
“He's a great guy,” said Reiter. “I think that's just the heat of the moment. From my time in Cleveland, he's a great guy, I've got nothing bad to say about him.”
The melee unfolded in the closing seconds of Cleveland's 21-7 victory over the Steelers. Garrett took Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph to the ground following a quick pass. Rudolph grabbed Garrett's helmet at the end of the play, and Garrett responded by pulling off Rudolph's helmet. Steelers center Maurkice pounded kicked Garrett in the fight, and Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi knocked Rudolph down from behind.
The NFL suspended Garrett indefinitely, but for a minimum of the remainder of the regular season and postseason. Pouncey received a three-game suspension and Ogunjobi a one-game suspension. The league also handed down unspecified fines, including a $250,000 fines against each franchise.
Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu didn't watch the game, but striking an opponent with a helmet should never happen, he said.
“It's uncalled for,” Mathieu said. “It really shouldn't happen at any level of football. It is unnecessary, I would say.”
Linebacker Reggie Ragland said he understands Garrett's frustrations, but there's a line that players can't cross.
“All our tempers flare at some point in this game,” Ragland said. “But hitting a man in the head with a helmet? Even though Mason Rudolph might have started trying to pull his off, we knew we've got to control ourselves in this sport at all costs.”
Reiter said keeping emotions in check is part of being a professional football player.
“You've got to know what's going to get you thrown out of a game, what's going to get you suspended,” “You've got to play it smart, but you've to protect your guy, I get it. Those guys don't want to back down, protect their guy, but at end of the day you've got to be smart about.”
What if a defender attacked Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in a similar fashion? Ragland jokingly tweeted about “cancel Christmas” if a defender went after Mahomes. He says Garrett has a reputation as a good person, but now he also carries a stigma due to this incident.
“I understand it, our tempers flare sometimes,” Ragland said. “But we can't do that in this league. We've got to protect one another, we're brothers. It's tough.”
Reiter doesn't know what he would do if that happened to his quarterback.
“Our job is to protect him, and it's pretty hard not to do what they did,” Reiter said. “But it's hard to put myself in that situation.”