All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and I’m down in the Florida Keys where tomorrow I’ll be officiating the wedding of Lori Kelly, the former editor of Outkick, and her fiance.

I’m excited for both of them and it should be a lot of fun.

Speaking of a lot of fun, you can win $10k of my money by playing Outkick’s college football pick’em. It’s free so go play. (I hope you all lose).

Okay, here we go with the mailbag, which was taken over by Myles Garrett questions, not surprisingly, the moment things went awry last night in Steelers-Browns.

So I’m synthesizing them as such, what should happen to Myles Garrett?

I’ll also include this specific email from Louie asking about criminal charges in this case, the question many want addressed given the absurdity of what we just saw last night on Thursday Night Football:

“Was what we saw a crime? Millions of people saw what appears to be assault and battery on national television. Just because it was on a sports field does not give this a pass. If you’re on the street trying to crack skulls with a helmet I’d say there is a 100% chance you’re going to jail. I don’t think Rudolph will press charges, but could local authorities charge Garrett based on what was televised? I know its not likely since it was a Cleveland home game, but there are Steelers fans everywhere.”
Okay, let’s dive in here.

Based on NFL precedent Myles Garrett should be suspended for a minimum of four games, and potentially for the rest of the season.
Why do I say four games? Because that’s how many games former Tennessee Titan Albert Haynesworth received back in 2006 when he stomped on Andre Gurode, a former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman’s face, and required that player to get thirty stitches.
Just like with Garrett’s actions, there was no “football aspect” to the Haynesworth stomp. The play was over and took place outside the bounds of acceptable contact. This wasn’t a dangerous hit while the ball was still live, this was an entirely non-football play, something that should never occur.
Indeed, just like the Haynesworth stomp was without modern precedent, I can’t remember any NFL game where a player has had his helmet taken off and been attacked like this before.
So the clear precedent here requires at least a four game suspension, potentially much more.
If I were NFL commissioner I’d suspend Garrett for the rest of the year without pay — that would be six games — and force him to undergo anger management training during the offseason until I allowed him to come back to rejoin the NFL.
While many on Twitter want to defend Garrett, this is an indefensible action that was in no way a proportional or reasonable act of self defense. If someone bumps you in a bar, you don’t have the right to kill them and argue self defense. In order to have a good self defense you need to believe that you face serious injury or death as a result of what was done to you. Here, unlike in most cases alleging self defense, we have the entire incident from multiple angles on HD video.
No reasonable person who watches Garrett’s behavior, even if there were provocations from Mason Rudolph, can remotely argue that Garrett was at risk of serious bodily injury or death when he attacked Rudolph with Rudolph’s own helmet.
This is not a case where self defense applies.
Now, the question of whether Garrett should be charged with a crime is, I think, a bridge too far.
Does it meet the standards of criminal assault or battery in Cleveland? Probably.
But is this something the criminal courts need to get involved in? I don’t think so.
So I wouldn’t support any criminal charges in this case.
Now, interestingly, if this game had been played in Pittsburgh there’s probably a decent chance an ambitious DA might explore charges because the local fan base, which sees their player as the victim and demands justice based on the actions of a rival player, is more likely to support criminal actions like these. But given the fact this occurred in Cleveland and any charges would be brought in that jurisdiction, I don’t think a DA is as likely to act.
If anything, Myles Garrett is incredibly fortunate he didn’t do this in Pittsburgh, where he’d likely face greater legal peril.
What should happen here in my opinion is Garrett should be suspended for the rest of the season and fined and Mason Rudolph should get to direct the fine to a charity of his (Rudolph’s) choice. Garrett should also, clearly, apologize for his actions and acknowledge that he has misbehaved in a serious manner.
I suspect that in addition to Garrett’s substantial suspension we will probably see a fine and/or suspension for several other players, including, potentially Rudolph himself, and the player who defended him, Maurkice Pouncey. Although, to be honest, I don’t think Pouncey should be suspended for his defense because once Garrett hit Rudolph in the head with a helmet Pouncey’s defense of his quarterback seems downright reasonable. (I also think the Steelers player who shoved Rudolph after he’d already been hit in the head will face substantial penalty as well).
Now, credit where credit is due, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield handled this question from Erin Andrews about as well as possible.

Baker has been strongly criticized this year for his play and deportment, but this is really impressive to do in the immediate aftermath of the incident. No one was there to brief Baker or tell him what to say. He nailed his response.

So well done to him.

But unfortunately the same wasn’t true of many on Twitter.

ESPN NFL reporter Josina Anderson immediately Tweeted that Mason Rudolph, essentially, must have said something racist to set off Myles Garrett.

She deleted the Tweet, but it’s not surprising that one of ESPN’s top NFL reporters immediately presumes Rudolph, the white guy, is the guilty party here.

This is, sadly, not surprising coming from ESPN, but I’d just like to point out that what someone says to you, even if it’s racially inflammatory, doesn’t give you license to potentially kill them. Also, the idea that a grown adult can’t handle offensive words being said to him is an awful precedent to set as well. But, unfortunately, it’s all too common in this day and age for words to be used to justify heinous actions.

I feel like I’m screaming into the wilderness when it comes to our society overpunishing words and underpunishing actions. The latter matter, the former, generally speaking, should not.

We’ll see whether Garrett eventually decides to blame racism for his behavior. So far he hasn’t. But it is often the go-to line to defend indefensible behavior in our modern society.

It’s not surprising that woke ESPN would go in the that direction.

Finally, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who has been driven insane by the Colin Kaepernick story, tried to tie Myles Garrett to Kaepernick and suggested Garrett should be suspended for life. Which is just absurd.

Garrett should face a minimum of a four game suspension — and probably should be held out for the rest of the year — but to suggest he should be charged with a crime or suspended for any length of time beyond this is, I think, far too excessive of an overreaction.

There’s a precedent for behavior like Garrett’s in the Albert Haynesworth situation. We should follow that precedent here rather than grandstand or make totally ludicrous connections based on emotional responses.

Finally, let me say this, I wonder if Garrett is dealing with issues off the field this year that have caused him to behave in this manner. He started off the season by punching Titans tight end Delanie Walker in the face, injured Trevor Simian in a very dirty hit, and now has done this.

Garrett is a smart dude — he scored a 31 on the Wonderlic, well above what most quarterbacks score on the test — and was well liked at Texas A&M. He doesn’t have a history like Vontaze Burfict did. I think he may well need help and it might be the case that anger management and being away from football is the best thing for him right now.

Todd writes:

“Please settle an argument:  with the possibility of Bama going 11-1, the conversation will now turn to how many ranked teams they beat.  What is the definition of ranked team?  Was it at the time the two teams played? At any time in the season? When Bama plays Auburn (currently #13), there is a chance Auburn isn’t ranked, so that means Bama wouldn’t have beaten a ranked team all year.  Or, what if the Aggies end up at 8-4 and ranked #23, does that mean Bama beat a ranked team?”

This is a good question.

I only consider a team to be ranked in the top 25 if they are presently ranked in the top 25.

In other words, no one gets credit for beating Texas A&M back when they were a top 25 team because Texas A&M isn’t a top 25 team now.

So it’s ludicrous to claim that as a top 25 win or count it as part of your playoff resume.

Now the biggest issue with this I can see if it means there’s a pretty big difference on a team’s resume based on whether a team is 25 or 26. But is there really that much of a difference in the overall quality of the win? Of course not.

So you have to be careful with this metric at times.

That’s why I also like focusing on how many teams with winning records a team has beaten. That’s a decent approximation of overall strength of schedule.

Speaking of which, Alabama is getting crushed for having an easy schedule, but did you know that Alabama is going to have more top 25 opponents in the regular season than Oregon, Clemson, and Utah do combined? Alabama has two top 25 teams on its schedule right now and the only top 25 team for these other three schools is Oregon’s game against Auburn.

So if you want to attack Alabama’s schedule, I think you have to do the same for Clemson, Oregon and Utah as well.

Bryan writes:

“Would the committee be opposed to having Alabama at 4 with LSU at 1 knowing they would have to play again? A rematch in 2011 all but caused the BCS to be scrapped and replaced with the current system. As an LSU fan I would rather play anybody else then have to play Alabama again. So maybe OSU as the 1 seed would make it easier for the committee to explain letting Alabama into the playoff?”

The playoff committee is specifically instructed not to consider things like rematches in their rankings or seedings.

So the answer is it’s not supposed to factor in.

But could it creep into the committee’s mind?


But LSU-Bama was the highest rated game of the college football season. Is anyone really opposed to a rematch? Wouldn’t most of you, for instance, rather see Alabama-LSU than LSU-Utah? Or LSU-Oregon or LSU-Baylor?

I would.

Honestly, who would the LSU coaching staff rather play: Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Utah, or Baylor?

Is there any doubt that the team they’d least like to play is Alabama? And that the team Ohio State and Clemson would least like to play in this group is Alabama as well?

To me that’s pretty strong evidence Alabama is the best of the playoff contenders.

J1 writes:

“If you’re an Oregon Duck fan this CFP season, who are you rooting for/against to make the final 4?”

First, Oregon has to go 12-1 and win the Pac 12 title game.

But if you want to guarantee the Ducks a fourth playoff spot, here’s what needs to happen: Georgia beats Auburn, Auburn beats Alabama, LSU beats Georgia in the SEC title game. (By Georgia beating Auburn you eliminate 10-2 Auburn from title consideration).

Boom, the SEC is eliminated from the playoff other than 13-0 LSU.

Then Oregon needs for Ohio State to win the Big Ten.

Finally, it wouldn’t hurt if Oklahoma beats Baylor in the regular season and then Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State in Bedlam to end the year. Then Baylor loses in the Big 12 title game as well. That way every Big 12 team would have at least two losses as well.

If all of these results happened then Oregon would be the unquestioned fourth playoff team selected.

So if you want a list of games to root for, there you go.

John writes:

“So Georgia beats LSU for SEC championship and undefeated Minnesota beats Ohio State for Big 10. Who are the four if Clemson goes unbeaten as well?”

I don’t think this is that complicated.

Your four playoff teams would be Clemson, Georgia, LSU, and Minnesota probably in that order. Ohio State would be the next team left out at number five followed by Alabama at number six, presuming the Tide finished 11-1.

LSU would have the better quality wins over Ohio State in this scenario of non-champion playoff teams and Minnesota knocks out the Buckeyes.

Tommy writes:

“My five year old was recently recruited for a club soccer team. While this is flattering as a Dad, isn’t this getting silly?”

Yes, completely and totally silly.

One of my favorite stats is that parents who pursue college scholarships for their kids by way of club sports end up spending more on the club sports than they would have for their kids to go to college.

If you want your kid to go to college, save for your kid to go to college.

Elite athleticism is rare.

Eventually elite athleticism wins out over parents who push their kids aggressively in club sports.

That is, by the time puberty hits the fact that your little Johnny has been playing club sports since he was six or seven years old won’t matter if Johnny isn’t an elite athlete.

If your kid enjoys sports, let him play. But the best training any athlete can have is a well rounded exposure to a variety of different sports. I don’t think anyone should “specialize” in a sport until they’re in high school at the earliest and even then I think it makes sense to play multiple sports in high school.

Also, and this is important for every parent to hear, your kid probably isn’t that good at sports and probably isn’t going to play at a high level in college or, god forbid, the pros.

Vol4life writes:

“What will be the ramifications for the Democrats for this impeachment hearing?”

There will be zero lasting political impact here.

The same people who love Trump will love him and the same people who hate Trump will hate him.

The House Democrats are going to vote to impeach Donald Trump along partisan lines and the Senate Republicans are going to vote not to remove Donald Trump from office, mostly along partisan political lines as well.

To me what impeachment signifies is that Democrats are terrified Trump is going to win again in 2020.

If they didn’t believe this why aren’t they just waiting for less than a year from now and letting the American public vote to remove him?

Pay less attention to the impeachment hearings and more attention to the fact that Michael Bloomberg and Deval Patrick are both joining the Democratic primaries at the last possible moment.

This reflects genuine panic over the fact that the Democrats have failed to put together any candidates who can definitely beat Donald Trump.

In fact, I think all of the leading candidates in 2020 have significant flaws that are likely to make them less strong candidates than Hillary Clinton was.

I mean, think about it: Elizabeth Warren, who falsely claimed to be a minority for decades, appeals less to the Midwest, where this race will be decided, than Hillary did. Based on his own polling Mayor Pete has major issues with black voters, particularly men, over his homosexuality. Bernie Sanders just had a heart attack and is a socialist. Joe Biden, who I still think is the best candidate, has been very unimpressive in the debates and appears to have major issues with his own speech patterns and, potentially, his own mental faculties. Not to mention the Ukraine mess that he’s been drawn into as well.

None of the four leading candidates are particularly strong as we move closer and closer to the Iowa caucus.

As if this weren’t enough, Trump won in 2016 despite being dramatically outspent by Hillary Clinton. Imagine what he’s going to be able to accomplish with a likely monetary advantage and no competition for the Republican nomination while the Democrats fight it out for the first half of 2020?

I just don’t see the 2020 campaign going well for Democrats at all right now.

Kevin writes:

“Would Arkansas hiring Butch Jones signal the apocalypse is here?”

I just can’t imagine this is remotely possible as a hire.

Butch is not a bad guy, but what makes Arkansas think he’d be more successful at a more difficult SEC job, Arkansas, than he was at a better SEC job, Tennessee?

This would be an insanely dumb hire.

Lucian writes:

“Will a team on the edge of the playoffs go after Kap if their QB goes down?”

No way.

It’s the height of absurdity to think that Colin Kaepernick, who hasn’t played football in nearly three years, would be capable of coming in and helping an NFL team make a playoff run.

Now could someone like the Patriots sign him and have him emulate Lamar Jackson in practice for he rest of the year? (This was Dub’s suggestion on my radio show, by the way).

Yes, I could totally see something like that happening.

And maybe next year Kaepernick could join the parade of (potential) free agent quarterbacks attempting to get shots from NFL teams: Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Marcus Mariota, Ryan Tannehill, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, and Jameis Winston and see if anyone wants him.

But how many teams will truly be in the free agent quarterback market? You figure the Dolphins and Bengals will draft first round quarterbacks so there’s no way those teams, I would think, would sign Kaepernick and put their rookie quarterback under that sort of media scrutiny.

So the only teams I see with potential interest are: the Titans, Bucs, Bears, Broncos, Chargers (if they let Rivers leave), and the Panthers (if they let Cam leave).

Maybe, possibly, if Greg Roman, Kap’s old offensive coordinator with the 49ers and the current offensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens, gets a head job he might be interested in bringing him in, but next year Kaepernick will be 33 years old.

That’s not necessarily old for a quarterback, but it is pretty old for a quarterback who hasn’t played for over three years. There’s literally no precedent for someone taking this many years off of football and coming back to be a good quarterback.

Plus, I continue to believe that if Kaepernick gets a job and comes back to play football that his martyrdom is over. How can you be a martyr when you’ve got a job and you’re on the sideline not good enough to play?

It just doesn’t make much sense for Kap to come back and play.

Thanks for reading the mailbag and I hope you guys have a great weekend.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.