Myles Garrett, 23, of the Cleveland Browns was the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL entry draft. Coming into his game on November 14th versus their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers, Garrett was tied for third most sacks in the NFL. With his immense talent and off the field charisma, what Garrett did at the end of the game surprised everyone. In the final 14 seconds of the game, with the Browns having secured a victory, a scrum broke out after Garrett had a late hit on Steelers’ quarterback Mason Rudolph. The scrum developed and led to Garrett ripping Rudolph’s helmet off and hitting him over the head with it. One day later, Garrett was handed a suspension for the remainder of season and postseason, and received a large fine, with more punishment likely to come.
Rudolph has said he will not take legal action, but what Garrett did is an act of criminal violence. Violence is just a part of the football and people tune in to see it, which in turn brings in a lot of money. According to conflict theory the purpose of sport is a mass distraction meant to maximize financial profit. This event increased viewership and media coverage, in turn boasting bigger numbers for the NFL, which is a positive thing when sport is viewed as an entity for making profit. This event seems out of character for Garrett, who has publicly spoken about not liking to drink alcohol and about his love for poetry. In this incident, he fell victim to overconformity. Garrett’s role in the fight can be seen as an act of positive deviance to the sport, which has been hypothesized that deviance is the result of overconformity in the sport. But Garrett, whose role is to hit people, got too lost in his role, resulting in a drastic act of violence. In that moment, he lost track of the line not to cross, and the football player role took over completely. If Garrett does return, the NFL is showing that this violent overconformity is okay in the game. It will also mean that, if you do a gruesome act of violence, it doesn’t spell the end of your playing days; you get a slap on the wrist, while the NFL rakes in the profits.