Mason Rudolph has a new nickname, or a few. “The astronaut”, not because his intelligence is beyond measure or how he flies upward, but rather because he has spent a significant amount of time seeing stars.
Rudolph has been at the center of attention since his primetime appearance against the Browns on Thursday night. Mainly because Myles Garrett decided to hit him over the head with his own helmet. Here is what transpired.
First, Garrett rushed Rudolph, trying to tackle him and ended up hitting him hard, bringing him to the ground and ended up on top of him facing each other. He continued to use his weight to pin Rudolph down as Rudolph started bickering. Words were exchanged, and Rudolph made a reach for Garrett’s helmet.
Garrett felt his helmet begin to come off his head because of Rudolph’s effort and began to retaliate by grabbing at Rudolph’s helmet. David Decastro at this point, a Steelers lineman, began to try and push Garrett away from Rudolph. Garrett was not to be denied as he ripped the helmet of Rudolph’s head with his right hand and swung it over his head at Rudolph’s temple. The bottom of the helmet made contact, not causing serious injury, but rattling Rudolph.
At this time, Garrett was pushed to the ground being attacked by Decastro and fellow lineman Marcuise Pouncey. They kicked at Garrett and punched him as they watched him throw a blatant attack at their quarterback. Since then, Pouncey has been suspended three games, and Garrett has been suspended indefinitely with a definite ban going through the rest of this season and postseason.
The first time Rudolph was seeing stars was against rival team the Baltimore Ravens. Safety Earl Thomas rushed Rudolph and hit him just under the chin strap of the helmet, knocking Rudolph unconscious on the field for several moments. For the entire Pittsburgh community, it was a scary moment. To watch what could be your future quarterback knocked out on the field is nothing short of horrendous.
Now, once again he has been violently hit on the head in an event that has never been seen on an NFL field. Rudolph was even given the option to press charges against Garrett but decided not to. Garrett has issued an apology towards Rudolph, his team and Cleveland as a whole. The issue has been put to rest; Garret received his punishment, apologies have been issued and the world can move on.
However, the Pittsburgh Steelers fear moments like this more than most teams. It is a direct reminder of how injuries can derail an entire career. The Pittsburgh Steelers lost one of their best players a few years ago to a back injury that might have ended the player’s career. Ryan Shazier attempted to tackle a player and compressed his spine to the point where he was temporarily paralyzed. Through extensive rehabilitation, he can now walk, but football is a long dream away.
This hit was just another reminder of how the violence in the NFL, while necessary, can ultimately alter a man’s life forever. When Garrett swung that helmet at Rudolph, the same fear was encapsulated around the entire world. People saw the potential damage that Garrett could have caused. This ultimately is the reason for Garrett’s suspension, the longest for a single event in NFL history.
Rudolph, in his second year in the NFL, has now seen an NFL veteran’s fair share of hard hits. In other words, his training as a Steeler is going well. For years, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers knew that defenses would throw their hardest hits against him. Simply because his nickname is Big Ben and it took the hard hits to bring him down. Now Rudolph is at the center of attention and will be receiving those big hits that were typically aimed at Big Ben.
In essence, this is Pittsburgh football: hard hits and a hard hitting group of people. This might be just what the Steelers needed to turn their season around.