CLEVELAND, Ohio — Browns defensive end Myles Garrett met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other league representatives about reinstatement from his indefinite suspension Monday morning, a league source told cleveland.com.
No timetable has been set yet, but Goodell could lift the ban anytime, and it will likely happen soon considering Garrett has been doing all the right things since losing his temper and striking Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph over the head with the QB’s helmet on Nov. 14.
Goodell told cleveland.com at the Super Bowl press conference two weeks ago that he’d meet with Garrett within the next 60 days about reinstatement, and a source said the ban was likely to be lifted shortly thereafter.
It’s good news for the Browns, who have a new coach in Kevin Stefanski, a new general manager in Andrew Berry and a new defensive coordinator in Joe Woods.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2017 when Berry was Vice President of Player Personnel under Sashi Brown, Garrett was a candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Year and had 10 sacks in 10 games when he was forced to leave the team.
Garrett was suspended indefinitely by the NFL for at least the final six games of the season on Nov. 15 for ripping off Rudolph’s helmet and striking him over the head with it with 8 seconds left in the Browns’ 21-7 victory at FirstEnergy Stadium. He was fined $45,623 in addition to the $1.14 million in lost game checks.
The suspension was upheld by independent appeals officer James Thrash despite Garrett’s allegation that Rudolph used a racial slur during the fight.
Without its premier pass rusher, the Browns defense faltered down the stretch and contributed to the team losing four of its last five games, including the final three and the season finale to the 2-14 Bengals.
Garrett has kept a low profile during his suspension, but has done some charity work, including serving the hungry at Feed the Need at TownHall in Cleveland on Nov. 26. Garrett, who’s worked out in the team weight room during the ban, hasn’t spoken publicly since the incident, but has been in good spirits, according to teammates who have interacted with him.
“Make the most of what you have and strive to be better in every aspect of your life,” Garrett posted on his Instagram account Jan. 1. “Good or bad, it all shall pass.’’
If Garrett is reinstated soon, he’ll be able to participate in the Browns’ entire offseason program, which begins April 6 — two weeks earlier than teams that don’t have a new head coach. Stefanski has said it’s important for all of his players to attend the offseason program, but recognizes it is voluntary.
Garrett was remorseful after the incident, which will go a long way toward him getting back in the league. He’s also been a model citizen his entire career except for that day.
“Last night, I made a terrible mistake,” Garrett said in a statement the day after. “I lost my cool and what I did was selfish and unacceptable. I know that we are all responsible for our actions and I can only prove my true character through my actions moving forward. I want to apologize to Mason Rudolph, my teammates, our entire organization, our fans and to the NFL. I know I have to be accountable for what happened, learn from my mistake and I fully intend to do so.”
Browns owner Dee Haslam showed her support for Garrett by wearing a No. 95 hat to the next home game against the Dolphins, and the Browns are eager to get him back in the fold.
A day after the fight, Goodell addressed it on an OTG podcast with Gary Meyers.
“Anything that is outside the game is problematic to us. And there’s no place for that in the game. It’s completely outside of football. It’s not an incorrect tackling technique or anything else. It’s just completely outside the game of football,” Goodell said. “And so in one way, that elevates it and it’s different circumstances.”
In addition to Garrett, Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi was suspended a game and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey for three, which was reduced to two on appeal. Both clubs were fined $250,000 each.
“It’s just not Myles Garrett here. Obviously he was the starting [point] but we suspended three different players in that,” Goodell said. “It’s probably, I would say, the most significant discipline we’ve had from any single incident in our history, although we don’t keep that stat, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t.
“It was in my view and I think our football people, something that had to be dealt with very quickly and very firmly to make it clear to the players that is not acceptable. And I’d add one other thing: and to the clubs. Because we also fined the clubs, both clubs, for having been the clubs that participated in this. Not that they were necessarily responsible for it, but they’re accountable for it and that’s the message we want them to understand.”