Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph is pushing back even harder now against Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garret than when he and Garret tangled in a November NFL game, touching off a massive brawl.
During a Nov. 14 game, Garrett sacked Rudolph, and pulled off the quarterback’s helmet after a tussle, later hitting Rudolph over the head with it. A melee involving 33 players from both teams followed, as did a six-game suspension for Garrett, who has now been reinstated.
At the time, Garrett accused Rudolph of using a racial slur, something Rudolph denied.
Garrett resurrected the claim during a Thursday interview with ESPN.
“He called me the N-word,” Garrett said about the 1:18 mark. “He called me a ‘stupid N-word.'”
Rudolph responded on Twitter.
“1000% False. Bold-Faced Lie. I did not, have not, and would not utter a racial-slur. This is a disgusting and reckless attempt to assassinate my character,” he wrote.
I did not, have not, and would not utter a racial-slur.
This is a disgusting and reckless attempt to assassinate my character. https://t.co/mZcEcC0tCl
— Mason Rudolph (@Rudolph2Mason) February 15, 2020
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin backed up Rudolph’s story, according to ESPN.
“I support Mason Rudolph not only because I know him, but also because I was on that field immediately following the altercation with Myles Garrett, and subsequently after the game. I interacted with a lot of people in the Cleveland Browns organization — players and coaches,” Tomlin said in a statement.
“If Mason said what Myles claimed, it would have come out during the many interactions I had with those in the Browns’ organization. In my conversations, I had a lot of expressions of sorrow for what transpired. I received no indication of anything racial or anything of that nature in those interactions,” he said.
The renewed claim of racism could end up with the players dueling in court, according to Tim Younger, Rudolph’s agent and attorney.
“We waited to hear the entire interview,” Younger said. “Garrett, after originally apologizing to Mason Rudolph, has made the ill-advised choice of publishing the belated and false accusation that Mr. Rudolph uttered a racial slur on the night in question.”
During his interview with ESPN, Garrett said the word he claims Rudolph used is highly offensive to him.
“I don’t say that word, whether it’s with ‘a’or ‘er.’ To me, personally, [it] just shouldn’t be said, whether it’s by family, friends, anyone,” Garrett said. “I don’t want to use it because I don’t want to find that appropriate around me for anyone to use.”
“When he said it, it kind of sparked something, but I still tried to let it go and still walk away. But once he came back, it kind of reignited the situation,” he said.
The league said at the time of the original claim that it found nothing to back up Garrett’s claim.
However, Garrett insisted he was correct.
“There were guys who were mic’d up near me, near us, during that time who didn’t hear anything,” Garrett said. “And from what I’ve heard, there have been audio during that game that could have heard something or could not have heard something, but they don’t want to say.”
“I don’t want to make it a racial thing, honestly,” he said. “It’s over with for me. I’m pretty sure it’s over with for Mason. We just want to move past that and keep on playing football.”
Garrett said his attempt to injure Rudolph was “childish.”
“It was childish on both parts, but it was childish of me.”
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