Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett’s actions on Thursday night stunned the sports world, including his former high school coach.
Bob Wagner — who coached Garrett at Arlington Martin high school in the Dallas area before he attended Texas A&M — said that Garrett’s behavior on the field on Thursday night were “very, very out of character,” and that he’s never seen anything like that from Garrett before.
“There’s no justification for that act,” Wagner said, via USA Today’s Jori Epstein. “I will also say that this is a very emotional game. And again, that’s not justification. But until you’ve been at the bottom of a pile, until you’ve had some of those experiences, I would suggest that you refrain from judgement.
“If he could take it back right now, he would in a heartbeat. That is not a representation of the Myles Garrett that I’ve grown to love.”
Garrett sparked a brawl in the final seconds of their 21-7 win against the Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on Thursday night. He ended up ripping Rudolph’s helmet off his head, swung that helmet at him and hit Rudolph in the head with it.
Garrett has since apologized, saying he “made a terrible mistake” and “lost my cool.” The NFL announced Friday that he is suspended indefinitely, at a minimum through the end of the 2019 season. The league also fined Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey for three games and Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi for one game for their roles in the incident, and fined each franchise $250,000.
Naturally, Garrett’s actions drew swift criticism from both around the sports world and from inside the Browns’ locker room itself. Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield even slammed Garrett just seconds after the game in an interview with Fox’s Erin Andrews.
While he condemned the brawl, Wagner said he called both Garrett and his mother on Friday to show his support.
“My message was, ‘Hey, we love you. We support you. You made a mistake, and this too shall pass,’ ” Wagner said, via USA Today. “And it will. He’s not perfect. None of us are. He made a big mistake.”
Addressing his team
Wagner used Thursday night’s incident as a teaching moment with his players.
“Part of the greatness of the game is you’ve got a game that is constantly on the verge of out of control,” Wagner told his team, via USA Today. “To be great at this game, it’s a violent game. It’s a physical game by nature. The greatness of the game is the ability to control that. To have a level of discipline that there’s a set of rules, they’re there to be followed.”
He also assured his team that, even after how ugly Garrett’s actions were, he still supports his former player — and will with all of them, too.
“They’re ours when he’s the No. 1 pick on draft day,” Wagner said, via USA Today. “They’re ours when they become doctors and lawyers. They’re ours when four of them are currently in the league, and they’re ours when they make a mistake and we don’t turn our back on them when it goes bad.
“We’re standing beside them when it [goes] well and we’ll stand beside them when it goes poorly.”
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