NFL PR has more than a Myles Garrett Problem

Gut reaction to Browns - Steelers: Ugly brawl, hits yet another bad look

Getty images

As I watched Myles Garrett being punched and kicked on the ground by Pittsburgh Steelers offensive linemen, I couldn't help but feel bad for the NFL public relations team. Last night's game was a PR nightmare. What will dominate sports headlines for the foreseeable future is Myles Garrett's inexcusable action where he tore the helmet off Mason Rudolph and then proceeded to use that helmet as a weapon to strike Rudolph on the head. However the unfortunate truth is that the game was a PR mess before that brawl even started.

For the past few years the NFL has had issues with its image on topics ranging from substance abuse problems to the game being regarded as "unsafe." Here is a recap of all the issues the Browns – Steelers match-up couldn't help but showcase last night.

Headlines prior to the game starting:

  • Cleveland RB Kareem Hunt – Headlines about Hunt returning back from suspension for "multiple physical altercations". Though his first game back was Nov 10th against Buffalo, we are still in the first week of his return and pre-game talk was focused on his history.
  • Cleveland WR Antonio Callaway – Was released by the team before the game for violating the substance-abuse policy. Though he will appeal the upcoming 10 game suspension, the team decided to waive the WR immediately.

Injuries:

  • Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster – Exited the game in the 2nd quarter after absorbing two simultaneous helmet-to-helmet hits. Smith-Schuster appeared to be motionless on the ground for some time.
  • Steelers WR Diontae Johnson – Exited the game in the 3rd quarter after taking a brutal helmet-to-helmet shot from Browns Safety Damarious Randall. Randall was ejected for the hit and we all got to watch Johnson be helped off the field while blood was gushing from his ear.
  • Steelers RB James Conner – Was playing in his first game back from injury, appears to have re-injured his shoulder in the 2nd quarter.

It is worth noting here that the Steelers were already missing QB Ben Roethlisberger who is out for the season with an elbow injury. As a result of these injuries the Steelers offense was unable to function for most of the game. Backup Quarterback Mason Rudolph finished with 4 interceptions and a 10.8 QBR.

The Brawl:

  • Cleveland DE Myles Garret – Will most likely be suspended for the rest of the year for his actions. The Brawl started when Garret threw Rudolph to the ground in what looked like a late hit to the QB. Rudolph's actions to escalate the situation cannot be overlooked, but for Garret to use a helmet as a weapon was completely inexcusable.
  • Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph – Rudolph came off as the victim but my gut tells me he will be punished as well. Rudolph took issue with Garret's late hit and is caught on tape trying to pull Garret's helmet off first. Also, as Garret is being pulled away it is Rudolph who runs at Garret to restart the fight. Rudolph called the helmet hit "cowardly" and "bush league" in the post-game press conference but his own actions may fall into that bush-league category.
  • Browns DE Larry Ogunjobi – Came in after he saw Rudolph get hit on the head with the helmet and than proceeded to push Rudolph to the ground from behind… That one left me scratching my head.
  • Pittsburgh Offensive Linemen Maurkice Pouncey & David DeCastro – After Garret struck Rudolph, Pouncey and DeCastro threw Garret to the ground where they repeatedly punched and kicked him. Of all the actions that took place, this one at least made sense as the line was defending their QB. However that probably won't stop suspensions and fines from heading their way. The whole "start a fight after your QB gets hit" thing may need to be re-examined if these guys miss significant time.

The trend we are seeing in the US is that more and more parents are refusing to let their children play football for fear of it being an unsafe and dangerous game. The NFL has been doing everything in its power to fight against that image, but Thursday's game was a failure on all fronts.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston is back in the win column

McCullers Jr. spins a gem as Astros get a much-needed win over Giants

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

After getting swept by the A's in Oakland to end a road trip with a five-game losing streak, the Astros returned to Houston to try and get back on track. To do so, they'd need a win against the Giants on Monday night. Here is a quick recap of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 6, Giants 4.

Record: 7-9, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (2-1, 6.10 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Logan Webb (1-1, 2.81 ERA).

Houston builds up an early lead

The early goings of Monday's game went very similar to the last time Lance McCullers Jr. took the mound. He would have a terrific first three innings while his offense gave him an early lead. The first run came in the bottom of the second, with Yuli Gurriel reaching base on a one-out double, moving to third on a wild pitch, then scoring on an RBI-single by Carlos Correa.

Correa would take part in a four-run inning in the third, as Houston would score two on a two-RBI ground-rule double by Michael Brantley, another on an error, then Correa's second RBI of the night, a groundout to bring in a run and make it 5-0. Unlike the last start in Arizona, where the roof opened and McCullers Jr. fell apart in the fourth, he was able to make quick work of his opponent for a 1-2-3 frame. As he kept recording scoreless innings, Martin Maldonado added another run to the lead with a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth, making it 6-0.

McCullers Jr. takes a no-hitter into the seventh

While the Astros were building their lead, McCullers Jr. was spinning a gem on the mound. He allowed just one baserunner through the first six innings, which came on a hit-by-pitch. He entered the seventh with a no-hitter in progress, but the Giants would get their first hit of the night to end the no-hit bid.

Regardless, the start was precisely what McCullers Jr. needed to restore his confidence after the disastrous inning he had in his last appearance. He would go on to complete the seventh inning before Houston would go to the bullpen with the large lead in the eighth. His final line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K 0 HR, 1 HPB.

Houston gets back in the win column despite more struggles by Josh James

Josh James entered out of the bullpen for the top of the eighth but allowed the first run of the night for San Francisco via a solo home run with one out to make it 6-1. He would complete the inning and then return for the top of the ninth. He would have another rocky inning, issuing a leadoff walk before a single and double would make it a four-run game at 6-2, still with no outs in the inning and runners on second and third, prompting another call to the bullpen.

Dusty Baker would bring in his current closer, Ryan Pressly, to try and finish the game, now in a save situation. Pressly would retire the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-RBI single to make it 6-4, but would eventually get the final out to get Houston the much-needed win. With the victory, the Astros moved back into second place in the AL West standings.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will start Tuesday at 8:10 PM Central. The Giants, working with a fluid rotation, have not yet fully decided on their starter, while the Astros will get another start from Brandon Bielak (2-0, 0.87 ERA) who will look to repeat the success of his five-inning, no-run start in Arizona last week.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome