During his appeal hearing with the NFL on Wednesday, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett claimed Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph called him a racial slur right before a fight broke out between Cleveland and Pittsburgh at the end of their “Thursday Night Football” game on Nov. 14, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Josina Anderson.
An NFL spokersperson said the league looked into Garrett’s allegation but “found no such evidence” Rudolph uttered a racial slur, per Schefter.
Rudolph has strongly denied Garrett’s allegation through a Steelers spokesperson, who said Rudolph “will not discuss this accusation any further” and added “his focus remains on preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.”
Rudolph was not available to speak to reporters following the team’s Thursday afternoon practice, but his attorney, Timothy M. Younger, shared a statement on his behalf.
“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,” Younger said. “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.
“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. This is reckless and shameful. We will have no further comment.”
Freddie Kitchens affirmed his support for Garrett when asked about the ESPN report on Thursday, but the Browns coach would not say whether Garrett made him aware of the accusation.
During Wednesday’s media session, Rudolph accepted responsibility for not keeping his composure but made it clear he “definitely didn’t say anything” to anger Garrett to the point that he would rip off Rudolph’s helmet and use it as a weapon against Rudolph.
Mason Rudolph addressed the Thursday incident in a prepared statement and brief Q&A before walk through.
“I consider it a privilege, not a right to be a part of the NFL. To be part of a first class organization … and I fell short of that expectation last Thursday night.” pic.twitter.com/2OHiDWLEBm
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 20, 2019
When asked immediately following the game if Rudolph had said something to upset him, Garrett paused before saying, “They just gotta go look at it.”
I don’t know if the rumors are true and Rudolph called Garrett the N-word, but he definitely said something that upset Garrett.
QUESTION: Did Mason say something – is that what started things?
GARRETT: [long pause] They just gotta go look at it. And I’m not gonna comment on it. pic.twitter.com/dXEjUO4SHU
— Roberto Shenanigans (@Rob_Shenanigans) November 16, 2019
Garrett was suspended indefinitely for the helmet swing, and now that the NFL’s punishment has been upheld, he will remain out for at least the rest of the 2019 regular season and any potential postseason games. Rudolph avoided a suspension but was reportedly expected to receive a fine for his role in the fight.