After being reinstated by the NFL, Myles Garrett is looking to put the events that landed him an indefinite suspension behind him. But before doing that, the Cleveland Browns star defensive end decided to double down on his allegation that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph sparked his helmet-swinging attack and ensuing brawl by calling him a racial slur.
“He called me the N-word,” Garrett said in an interview with Mina Kimes of ESPN that aired Thursday. “He called me a ‘stupid N-word.’
“When he said it, it kind of sparked something, but I still tried to let it go and still walk away,” Garrett added. “But once he came back, it kind of reignited the situation. And not only have you escalated things past what they needed to be with such little time in the game left, now you’re trying to re-engage and start a fight again. It’s definitely not entirely his fault, it’s definitely both parties doing something that we shouldn’t have been doing.”
Garrett — the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft — missed the Browns final six games of the season and his actions cost him more than $1 million in missed paychecks and fines.
“I don’t say the N-word, whether it’s with ‘a’ [or] ‘er.’ To me personally, just shouldn’t be said, and whether it’s by family, friends, anyone. I don’t want to use it because I don’t want [people to] find that appropriate around me for anyone to use.”
Not the First Time Myles Garrett Has Brought up Racial Slur Allegation
The allegation first came up during the appeals process in November, when it was reported that Garrett told the league the racial slur from Rudolph sparked his actions.
“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. 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.
“I know what I heard. Whether my opponent’s comment was born out of frustration or ignorance, I cannot say. 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.”
The Steelers quickly issued a statement that denied the allegation of the racial slur and Rudolph called it totally untrue.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Rudolph said. “I couldn’t believe he would go that route after the fact.”
Browns Welcome Myles Garrett Back With Open Arms
Garrett was on pace for a Pro Bowl season before his suspension, amassing 10 sacks. He was also set to obliterate the franchise’s single season sack record.
The Browns have supported Garrett every step of the way during the turbulent time, and despite there being in a new regime in place, his return to the active roster has been celebrated.
“We welcome Myles back to our organization with open arms,” said Browns EVP of football operations and general manager Andrew Berry said in a statement. “We know he is grateful to be reinstated, eager to put the past behind him and continue to evolve and grow as a leader. We look forward to having his strong positive presence back as a teammate, player and person in our community.”
Garrett will have a chance to get back on track under the Browns new regime and defensive coordinator Joe Woods, who plans to run a 4-3. New defensive line coach Chris Kiffin is excited to see what he can do with Garrett.
“Myles is an athletic freak as everyone knows, but what excites me about him is he’s just getting started,’’ Kiffin said in a release provided Thursday by the Browns. “He’s just scratching the surface of what he can be.”