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NFL upholds Myles Garrett's indefinite suspension for attack on Mason Rudolph

The NFL's indefinite suspension of Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett for hitting an opposing quarterback with his helmet was upheld Thursday. The defensive end struck Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph at the end of last Thursday night's game.

Garrett appealed the punishment to an official jointly appointed by the league and the players' union. James Thrash, a former player, upheld the indefinite suspension, the NFL said in a statement.

The brawl unfolded in the final moments of the Browns' 21-7 win over the Steelers. Garrett tackled Rudolph to the ground after a short pass, and both players pulled at each other's helmets. Garrett ripped off Rudolph's helmet and swung it, connecting on the top of the quarterback's head. Garrett had expressed regret for the incident.

"I know I have to be accountable for what happened, learn from my mistake and I fully intend to do so," he said.

On Wednesday, Rudolph, who was fined $35,000, also apologized. "The bottom line is I should've done a better job keeping my composure in that situation," he said.

Garrett had said an indefinite suspension was excessive. He cited the three-game punishment against former Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith for a similar attack in 2013.

Garrett said during the hearing that the brawl was ignited after Rudolph allegedly used a racial slur. Rudolph denied the allegation, and the NFL said they found no evidence to support Garrett's claim. 

"I was assured that the hearing was space that afforded the opportunity to speak openly and honestly about the incident that led to my suspension," Garrett tweeted Thursday night after the decision was announced. "This was not meant for public dissemination, nor was it a convenient attempt to justify my actions or restore my image in the eyes of those I disappointed." 

"I know what I heard," he added. "Whether my opponent's comment was borne out of frustration or ignorance, I cannot say. But his actions do not excuse my lack of restraint in the moment, and I truly regret the impact that this has had on the league, the Browns and our devoted fans." 

Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey tweeted the team's support for Garrett in a statement, writing, "our organizational support for Myles will continue. He is a man of high character and unquestionable integrity." 

"He was open and honest with us about the situation from the start," Dorsey added. "He has taken accountability for his actions on Thursday night and this situation will not define him." 

Also Thursday, another appeals officer, Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks, reduced Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey's suspension from three games to two games for punching and kicking Garrett. That means Pouncey will not be on the field when the teams next face off on December 1 in Pittsburgh.

Brooks also upheld a $35,000 fine against Pouncey. On Wednesday, Thrash upheld a one-game suspension against Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi for shoving Rudolph after Garrett's attack, but Thrash rescinded an additional $10,000 fine against Ogunjobi.

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