Mason Rudolph denied the accusation and the NFL said they did not have evidence to support Myles Garrett's claim
Cleveland Browns player Myles Garrett accused Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph of using a racial slur in the moments leading up to their much-publicized brawl in the waning seconds of their game last Thursday, according to ESPN.
During a hearing with league officials this week, Garrett expressed his regret about his role in the fight, which saw him rip off Rudolph’s helmet before hitting him with it.
The act sparked an all-out brawl between players from both teams, and Browns’ defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was seen pushing Rudolph to the ground in the scuffle. Both Rudolph and Garrett were heavily criticized for their parts, and the NFL announced Garrett had been “suspended indefinitely” the next day.
While attempting to appeal the decision on Wednesday, Garrett alleged Rudolph used a racial slur — a claim the NFL said they had no evidence to support, ESPN reported.
“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 told the outlet on Thursday after news of his accusation leaked. “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.”
Though he didn’t want the claim to be made public, Garrett said he stood by it.
“I know what I heard. Whether my opponent’s comment was born out of frustration or ignorance, I cannot say,” he continued. “But his actions do not excuse my lack of restraint in the moment, and I truly regret the impact this has had on the league, the Browns and our devoted fans.”
A Steelers spokesperson told ESPN that Rudolph has denied using a slur.
“Mason vehemently denies the report of being accused of using a racial slur during the incident Thursday night in Cleveland,” they said. “He will not discuss this accusation any further and his focus remains on preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.”
In a statement, Rudolph’s lawyer called Garrett’s claim “unfounded” and a “lie.”
“According to ESPN, in his appeal, Myles Garrett falsely asserted that Mason Rudolph uttered a racial slur toward him, prior to swinging a helmet at Mason’s uncovered head, in a desperate attempt to mitigate his suspension,” attorney Timothy M. Younger told ESPN. “This is a lie. This false allegation was never asserted by Garrett in the aftermath of the game, never suggested prior to the hearing, and conspicuously absent in the apology published by the Browns and adopted by Garrett.”
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“The malicious use of this wild and unfounded allegation is an assault on Mason’s integrity which is far worse than the physical assault witnessed on Thursday,” he added. “This is reckless and shameful. We will have no further comment.”
Rudolph initially called Garrett’s actions “cowardly” after the game, according to a clip shared by reporter Clay Travis. This week, Rudolph seemed to have changed his mind when he told reporters, “I have no ill will towards Myles Garrett. Great respect for his ability as a player, and I know that if Myles could go back, he would handle the situation differently.”
Garrett also spoke out about the incident after the game, saying he regretted his behavior.
“I made a mistake, I lost my cool and I regret it,” Garrett told reporters at the time, according to Cleveland.com. “It’s going to come back to hurt our team. The guys who jumped into the scrum, I appreciate my team having my back, but it should have never gotten to that point. That’s on me.”