Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was unapologetic for his role in Thursday night’s Steelers-Browns melee, when he punched and kicked Cleveland’s Myles Garrett after Garrett removed Mason Rudolph’s helmet and swung it at him.
Garrett has been suspended indefinitely, while Pouncey was suspended three games.
While the veteran offensive lineman did what linemen do — protect their quarterback — the NFL had to enforce its rules.
That wouldn’t stop another lineman from doing the same.
Ryan Kelly on Pouncey’s side
Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly was asked on Friday what he would do in a similar situation; according to Colts beat reporters Stephen Holder of The Athletic and Mike Chappell of Fox 59/CBS 4, Kelly didn’t hesitate to explain how he’d defend Jacoby Brissett.
“If someone takes Jacoby’s helmet off and tries to beat the [expletive] out of him with it, I’m going to beat the [expletive] out of that guy,” Kelly said.
Holder said Kelly made the declaration “with conviction.”
When a Twitter follower responded that reporters should have asked Quenton Nelson, the second-year All-Pro guard with a nasty streak, Holder wrote that he’d spoken to Nelson and “let’s just say he made it clear where he stands on protecting his QB.”
Kelly not alone
Kelly wasn’t alone: other current and former NFL players knew exactly where Pouncey was coming from.
Retired Ravens defensive back Lardarius Webb tweeted to Pouncey, “You gotta do what you gotta do. If they hit [Baltimore quarterback] Lamar [Jackson] with a helmet I swear it would be a riot at that exact moment.”
Los Angeles Chargers receiver Kennan Allen wrote, “Yeaaaah Pounce. Straight up don’t touch my QB let alone disrespect him like that. #MyBrothersKeeper”.
Corey Levin, a Denver Broncos reserve lineman, tweeted, “If your friends don’t have your back like Maurkice Pouncey...they ain’t your friends.”
Retired tackle Trai Essex, who spent most of his career with Pittsburgh and was teammates with Pouncey for two seasons wrote, “I’ll tell you what though, nobody has your back like @MaurkicePouncey!”
Hall of Famer and NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders said, “Just so yall know that inside a @NFL locker room @MaurkicePouncey is a hero. He protected his QB and he was willing to risk it all for his teammate. Ain’t many dogs like that left in the game.”
Sanders also wrote that Pouncey should be fined but not suspended, which obviously the NFL disagreed with.
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