Students and parents learn sportsmanship lesson from NFL brawl

As high school football players battled it out under the Friday night lights, many parents in the stands say they'd seen the NFL brawl that erupted the night before during the nationally televised game between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Browns' defensive end Myles Garrett issued a formal apology for slamming a helmet into the Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph's head after he and Rudolph tussled on the ground.

At a game between cross-town rivals, San Ramon Valley and Monte Vista High Schools, some parents say the brawl has sparked some serious discussions.

"My son was doing homework as we were watching the game before and I think he was kind of shocked," said Dan Luciano, a Monte Vista High School parent whose son Cristian is a member of the football team.

"They are role models for these young men. A lot of these young men want to go on and play in the NFL and it's just a bad look on everybody," said Michael Gebhart, a parent.

"It's been a topic of conversation with other moms and we're all feeling the same way," said Colleen Woolery, a parent of a San Ramon Valley High School football player, "I do hope they realize that there are a lot of young kids watching them closely."

"He should be suspended for the whole year," said James Gebhart, a 3rd grader, referring to Garrett.

Garrett issued a statement Friday saying, "I made a terrible mistake. I lost my cool and what I did was selfish and unacceptable. I know that we are all responsible for our actions and I can only prove my true character through my actions moving forward. I want to apologize to Mason Rudolph, my teammates, our entire organization, our fans and to the NFL. I know I have to be accountable for what happened, learn from my mistake and I fully intend to do so."

Rudolph's agent, Tim Younger, said he'll explore legal action against Garrett. Cleveland police say no police report or charges have been filed.

Some in the stands say they blame both sides for escalating the clash, including Rudolph who did not walk away from the confrontation.

"In football you need to have high emotional intelligence and if you don't, you don't belong in the league," said Paula Luciano of Danville.

"You just want everyone to play safe and play fair," said Jennifer Salisbury, the mother of two San Ramon Valley High School football players, "You just want to always be proactive on being a good sport, being a good role model, and being a good person and a good player." 

San Ramon Valley High School athletic director Peter Scarpelli says sportsmanship is a lesson the entire league strives to teach all season.

"Just as they're learning plays and the culture of the team, they're learning how to handle all the different things that come along with it," said Scarpelli.

Scarpelli says incidents such as the NFL brawl is a good reminder for students that it's important to focus not only on handling plays, but also handling anger and emotions that come with competition.

"It's easy to have the pride. It's easy when things are going right, but it's those times of trouble if you will, that is when we get to reveal our own character," said Scarpelli.

Many people said they were glad the NFL took action. Both the Steelers and the Browns were fined $250,000 each. 

Garrett was indefinitely suspended without pay.The NFL said Garrett "violated unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules, as well as fighting and removing an opponent's helmet and using it as a weapon."

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, who was trying to separate Garrett and Rudolph, was suspended three games without pay and also fined for punching and kicking Garrett. Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was suspended for one game. He shoved Rudolph to the ground from behind during the melee.

The suspended players have three business days to appeal their penalties.