CLEVELAND — Myles Garrett should be done for the season.
(We pause here to allow for Browns fans to state their “but what about?” defense.)
So what about Mason Rudolph grabbing Garrett by the helmet and nearly twisting it off while lying on the ground?
What about James Harrison’s head hunting all those years?
What about Thursday is even close to the hit-man resume building Vontaze Burfict did in two different NFL cities?
Stop. None of it is relevant let alone exculpatory.
The league suspended Albert Haynesworth five games for tearing off Cowboys lineman Andre Gurode’s helmet and stomping him. He cut Gurode so badly with his cleats Gurode needed 30 stitches.
Garrett’s helmet swing on Rudolph could’ve done even more serious damage on a night when the Browns gave new meaning to head hunting.
If he gets less than the rest of the season as punishment, he should be grateful and move on without an appeal.
- The Browns have created a team profile of undisciplined behavior and immaturity. That’s them. That’s not a media creation.
They started the season with 18 penalties and a player (Greg Robinson) ejected for kicking an opponent. Ten games later, they get 121 yards in penalties and three players ejected.
If Freddie Kitchens isn’t coaching that, he hasn’t come close to stopping it either.
- Kitchens balked at being asked if a lack of discipline is “systemic” in his team but really bristled at a question about his tolerance of a brawling trip to Indianapolis for practices against the Colts this summer.
“I never OK fights,” Kitchens said. “Did I want them to get after their ass? Yes, I did. But that’s not fighting, that’s not after the whistle. Between the whistle, yes.
“I never condone fighting on the football field because that’s penalties… I don’t know what you’re talking about with Indianapolis I condone fighting. I’ve never in my life condoned a fight.”
Let’s just agree that after a lackluster first practice, Kitchens encouraged a much more physical second day in Indy.
And that when extra curricular activity understandably ensued, the coach wasn’t exactly so aghast at his team’s behavior that he needed smelling salts to revive him.
- That said, Myles Garrett’s meltdown is first and foremost a reflection on Myles Garrett.
- The lack of overall discipline is a reflection on the players, the man who is coaching them and, in some cases, on the guy who runs the draft.
- Lost in the bedlam Thursday night was how the day started: Antonio Callaway, a fourth-round pick of John Dorsey, getting waived while facing a second suspension for violating the drug policy and after arriving late for Sunday’s game and again for practice in Berea on Tuesday.
I’m sure Dorsey could say he doesn’t nurture discipline problems, but the problem is he doesn’t avoid drafting them or signing them.
- Baker Mayfield was quick to call Garrett’s actions “inexcusable.” Good for him.
“He’s going to own up to it,” Mayfield said of how Garrett and the Browns might get past this moment.
“He’s going to handle it, and this locker room has to come together because it’s going to be a soap opera on the outside, much like the media has portrayed us to be through the whole season.”
A media soap opera? Please.
I mean all the Browns do is mind their own business and the media makes them look like they’re more interested in taunting and dress code violations and cheap shots and…
- I’ve never seen a team give so much focus to things that don’t matter and then criticize the media for paying attention to things that don’t matter.
- Most recent case in point: Odell Beckham making a yawning gesture toward Mike Tomlin Thursday night after his 42-yard reception set up the Browns first TD.
It was his response to Tomlin doing the same in an ESPN interview six months ago when asked about how the Steelers might deal with the Browns after the Beckham signing.
Tomlin called Beckham a “great player” in the interview. His fake yawn was a precursor to saying in the NFL you deal with great players every week.
But six months later, this still mattered to Beckham.
Sometimes the Browns are an episode of SNL’s “The Californians” without the intentional humor.
- The 42-yard catch aside, Beckham had three other receptions for 18 yards Thursday.
- Reminder: the Browns did win Thursday.
- The Browns have now joined the big table of teams that have won at least two consecutive games.
That table already included Miami, so we’re not exactly talking white linen and waiters wielding Sur La Table crumb scrapers.
- The Browns were one of six teams that had not strung together consecutive wins. The five left behind are now the Bengals, Falcons, Bucs, Washington and the Jets.
By the end of the season, don’t even think about sitting at the table for one by the men’s room while you wait for the door to open.
That’s reserved for the Bengals.
- Jarvis Landry saying he’d do the “exact same thing” next time after getting a post-TD taunting penalty versus the Bills was just more ridiculous bravado.
By now it seems, you know, almost “systemic.”
- I mean no one would want his kicker to have to convert a 48-yard PAT to avoid losing a point that could cost his team the game a second time, right?
I’m spelling this all out in case Landry’s defiance left you feeling gaslighted and you really do think what he said made sense.
- Colts players are “still confident in (kicker) Adam Vinatieri,” according to a Pro Football Talk story.
Sure they are, if they bet the under.
- The 46-year-old Vinatieri, a four-time Super Bowl winner, has made just 14 of 19 field goals this season. His PAT conversion? Only 14 of 20.
Obviously the Colts should try the post-TD taunting penalty.
- Also brimming with confidence, we’re told, are the young New York Giants players who have “expressed confidence in Pat Shurmur.”
Because being new to the NFL, they know what it takes?
- The revelation from former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers that the team used technology to steal signs and relay them to the dugout is damning.
But I suspect the Astros will say they were just trying to even the playing field in case other opponents were spying on them.
- What baseball can’t do with the Astros is take away the World Series title or hammer them with loss of draft picks and such. I mean, not with a straight face anyway.
- Outrage over cheating in baseball always rings hollow.
Fiers’ revelation about the Astros reminded me of former Indians pitcher Steve Farr later saying your favorite team ran “a private wood shop” where bats were routinely corked.
Not too long after we had the famous Albert Belle corked bat incident in 1994. One suspicion was former Indians lefty Dennis Cook, who’d joined the White Sox, tipped off manager Gene Lamont during that summer’s heated division race. Cook denied it. The code, you know.
- The Indians, of course, suspected the White Sox X-rayed all their bats at Comiskey Park for that series and knew ahead of time Belle was swinging a corker. The White Sox, of course, denied that, too.
- I remember a quote former manager Whitey Herzog shared with Bob Nightingale of the Los Angeles Times back then.
“I'm telling you right now, if you checked everybody in baseball, you'd have a whole room full of corked bats.
"Believe me, with the way the ball's flying out this year, you'd be stupid not to check some of these guys. This has been going on for years, but everybody has been talking so much about the balls being juiced, they forget some of these bats are juiced, too.”
Would anyone really be surprised if the same were true now?
- By the way, Lamont told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel this that same year:
“To me, you do whatever you can to win. You tell your kids just the opposite. But that's the way it is.
"If you get caught, you pay the consequences. You do tell your kids that.”
Kids, do try this at home.
On the road, the cork might show up in the airport X-ray.
- LeBron James says he will not incorporate load management into his 17th season the way Kawhi Leonard did a year ago in Toronto and is repeating this year in L.A. in an attempt to stay healthy for the postseason.
"LeBron's healthy, LeBron'll play. That's all I'll talk about," James said. "I don't talk about nobody else but me."
But since such talk invites more use of the third person, he just as easily could.
- Ohio State’s Chase Young had his four-game suspension for accepting an illegal benefit reduced to two games. He won’t play this week against Rutgers but will return for Penn State and then Michigan.
Said no one who has seen the Scarlet Knights play.
- The Buckeyes are favored over Rutgers by 52.5 points.
Basically, they have as much chance as your or I would have in a scrap against Stipe Miocic.
- One of Stipe’s biggest fans: Myles Garrett.
And now we’ve come full circle.
- You’re welcome.