The Steelers quickly issued a statement that denied the allegation.
“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’s agent Timothy M. Younger went a step further, calling it 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. 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 haven o further comment.”
Shortly after it was announced that Garrett’s suspension would be upheld, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league looked into Garrett’s allegations that Mason Rudolph used a racial slur last Thursday night before the brawl “and found no such evidence,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Browns Players, Coaches React to Myles Garrett’s Allegation
Freddie Kitchens took the stand for his press conference shortly after the news broke and spoke on the allegation.
“What Myles and I talk about will stay between Myles and I,” Kitchens said. “I’m sure Myles represented himself professionally. I’ll stand by Myles and that will not waver.”
Reporters also asked Browns players about Garrett’s allegation, and neither Jarvis Landry or Baker Mayfield were aware of Rudolph saying the slur.
Landry said: “I don’t have knowledge about that. I don’t have a comment. I didn’t hear anything so…”
Odell Beckham Jr. said that he did not see a reason Garrett would lie about such a bold allegation.
“I’m kind of just hearing it all,” Beckham said when talking to reporters Thursday. “Myles hasn’t been in the building. That’s what the appeal process is for. We all support Myles. Just praying there’s a resolution for what’s going on.”
Steelers players also caught wind of what was said by Garrett and Steelers veteran Cam Heyward defended his quarter.
“It is kind of funny that it gets brought up now, but I don’t think that is what was said,” Heyward said via Mark Kaboly of The Athletic. “Now you are trying to label a kid. He was distraught going into practice even thinking about it.”
Myles Garrett Appeal Based on Precedent
“Source says Myles Garrett appeal argument is precedent-based. Antonio Smith got 2 preseason games, plus one regular season game for swinging helmet at Incognito in 2013. Ergo, even six games (remainder of this season) is too long, they argue. And of course, indefinite suspension unacceptable.”
Garrett has not spoken on the fight since he released a statement the day after the game.
“I lost my cool and what I did was selfish and unacceptable,” Garrett wrote. “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 will not be suspended for his role in the fight, but is expected to get a fine. Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi had his 1-game suspension upheld on Wednesday and a decision will come soon on Steelers offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey, who was banned three games.
Browns Future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas Calls Out Mason Rudolph
Rudolph addressed the incident with Garrett on Wednesday prior to Steelers practice with a brief Q&A session.
“I consider it a privilege, not a right to be a part of the NFL,” Rudolph told reporters. “To be part of a first class organization … and I fell short of that expectation last Thursday night.”
One person who was not a fan of the apology was Browns future hall of fame offensive lineman Joe Thomas, who called out Rudolph and the Steelers.
“If we’re going to do prepared statement apologies 6 days after an incident, wouldn’t the statement being accurate be somewhat important?” Thomas wrote. “I mean, they had 6 days to come up with this statement and this is the best they can do?”
A decision on Garrett’s appeal is expected before the end of the week. Next up for the Browns is a matchup with the Dolphins on Sunday, while the Steelers will take on Cincinnati the same day.