Report: Garrett says Rudolph used racial slur prior to melee
Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett alleged in his appeal hearing that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph used a racial slur prior to last week's melee, ESPN reported Thursday. Rudolph denied the accusation by Garrett, who was appealing his indefinite suspension by the NFL at a Wednesday hearing with league-appointed officer James Thrash.
"Mason vehemently denies the report of being accused of using a racial slur during the incident Thursday night in Cleveland," Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said in a statement. "He will not discuss this accusation any further and his focus remains on preparation for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals." Rudolph told reporters on Wednesday that he didn't say anything to provoke Garrett before the defensive end removed the quarterback's helmet and struck him on the top of his unprotected head in the closing seconds of last Thursday night's game.
Rudolph's attorney, Timothy M. Younger, responded to ESPN after the allegations were reported. "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. 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," Younger said.
"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." It is not known if on-field microphones caught any exchange between the players.
Per ESPN's Jake Trotter, multiple Browns said Thursday that is was the first they've heard about the accusation of a racial slur. Garrett, 23, was in New York on Wednesday for the hearing. ESPN reported the meeting lasted less than two hours. His suspension as it stands will cover at least the rest of this season, including the playoffs should the Browns qualify.
Browns coach Freddie Kitchens declined to share with reporters on Thursday what he and Garrett discussed about the incident, the appeal and the aftermath. "What Myles and I talk about stays between Myles and I," Kitchens said. "I'm sure Myles presented himself professionally, like he's done ever since the moment it happened (and) afterward. He's been nothing but professional in his responses.
"I can't really comment on the arbitrator's decision. We'll respect his decision on whatever he decides, and I know Myles presented himself professionally to the arbitrator in the hearing, and I'll stand by Myles and that's not going to waver." The incident started after Rudolph dumped off a short pass. After getting knocked down, Rudolph appeared to grab at Garrett's helmet before Garrett ripped off Rudolph's helmet and, with Steelers' offensive linemen attempting to intervene, hit the quarterback in the head with it.
Rudolph, who missed time earlier this season with a concussion after being knocked unconscious by Earl Thomas of the Baltimore Ravens, was not injured. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey received a three-game suspension for punching and kicking Garrett during the melee.
Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was handed a one-game suspension for shoving Rudolph in the back. That suspension was upheld upon appeal on Wednesday. The rulings on Garrett's and Pouncey's suspensions are expected later this week.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)