Browns fans who turned “free Myles Garrett” into a rallying cry on social media have had their wishes granted.
The NFL reinstated Garrett on Wednesday, lifting the indefinite suspension the star defensive end received in November for his actions in a brutal fight with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph.
The decision had been looming since Monday, when Garrett met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in New York. The league had stipulated Garrett would be required to meet with the commissioner’s office as one of the conditions of his reinstatement.
Because Garrett is no longer suspended, he’ll be permitted to participate in every facet of the Browns’ first voluntary offseason workout program under new head coach Kevin Stefanski when it begins April 6.
“We welcome Myles back to our organization with open arms,” Browns general manager Andrew Berry said. “We know he is grateful to be reinstated, eager to put the past behind him and continue to evolve and grow as a leader. We look forward to having his strong positive presence back as a teammate, player and person in our community.”
Garrett’s punishment for ripping the helmet off Rudolph and using it to hit the quarterback over the head on Nov. 14 in Cleveland was as follows:
• suspended without pay for the final six games of the 2019 season
• docked $1,139,911.76 from a half-dozen lost game checks
• fined $45,623 by the NFL
The league doled out the discipline on Nov. 15 and announced appeals officer James Thrash upheld the discipline on Nov. 21. In the appeal hearing, Garrett accused Rudolph of calling him a racial slur before their brawl unfolded with eight seconds left in the Browns’ 21-7 victory. Rudolph denied the allegation.
The league had initially barred Garrett from Browns headquarters in Berea when it suspended him but restored his access in early December. He still couldn’t practice or attend team meetings, but he was allowed to resume working with the club’s medical and training staffs.
The first overall draft pick in 2017, Garrett ranked fourth in the NFL with 10 sacks in 10 games when his third Browns season imploded, costing him his candidacy for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2018, when he had 13.5 sacks.
The loss of Garrett proved to be devastating to the Browns, who went 2-4 without him in the last six games, finished 6-10 and blew up the coaching staff and front office after the season.
Without Garrett, the defense was a shell of itself. It racked up 30 sacks in the 10 games he played but only eight sacks in the six games he missed due to suspension.
Two other players were suspended for their roles in the Browns-Steelers brawl.
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was docked three games and fined $35,096 for punching and kicking Garrett, but appeals officer Derrick Brooks reduced the ban to two games. Losing two games checks cost Pouncey another $117,647.05.
Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi served a one-game suspension, costing him a game check worth $48,246.82, for pushing a helmet-less Rudolph to the ground. Thrash upheld Ogunjobi’s suspension but rescinded a fine of $10,527.
Rudolph wasn’t suspended. He received a fine of $50,000 for his involvement, which included attempting to yank Garrett’s helmet off, planting his right foot in Garrett’s groin and later charging Garrett in the moments preceding the helmet swing.
The Browns and Steelers were each fined $250,000, and 29 players were fined $3,507 apiece for entering the area of the fight. The melee accounted for $732,422 in fines and another $1,305,805.63 in lost game checks from players who were suspended.