Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin appeared on ESPN’s First Take Monday morning to defend his quarterback, Mason Rudolph, from allegations leveled by Cleveland Browns defender Myles Garrett, who has said the scuffle that occurred last fall between the two teams was instigated by Rudolph calling him a racial slur.
Garrett was reinstated by the NFL last week after the indefinite suspension that resulted when he swung his helmet and hit Rudolph in the head back in November.
For his part, Rudolph vehemently denied Garrett’s allegations. “1000% false,” Rudolph began via Twitter Saturday morning. “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,” Rudolph wrote, retweeting an article referencing Garrett’s allegation.
It seems as though his head coach agrees.
Mike Tomlin on First Take: ‘Hacked Off’ About Myles Garrett Allegation
“I took offense to it to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin told Stephen A. Smith about Garrett’s allegation. “When it first transpired during the season, we don’t have a lot of time to pause and fight battles of that nature. We said our piece, we were completely cooperative with all parties involved, the Cleveland Browns and the National Football League office. Then, we had to move on, we had another game awaiting us. But when these allegations returned this past weekend, I thought it was appropriate that Mason is properly defended.”
Tomlin also noted that he was upset with the network (ESPN) that conducted Garrett’s interview this past weekend. So, he went on that same network to criticize how it handled the interview.
“To be quite honest with you, we were hacked off at what we saw this weekend. Not specifically for Myles Garrett, he’s been in the lane that he is in, but what was displayed by ESPN in that panel, the way that the situation was presented, I don’t think was fair to Mason Rudolph, and that is why I am here today.”
Tomlin Dishes on WR Antonio Brown
Not to be outdone, Smith then asked Tomlin about troubled wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was with the Steelers for nine years before leaving in 2019. Brown is no longer in the league after a series of legal issues, most of which are still ongoing, but he issued an apology to current Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last week after going on numerous public tirades about his former QB in the past, saying he “never realized how good” he had it with the team.
While Tomlin said the Steelers “have no current business interest” in Brown as a player, he also said, in reference to Brown: “Once a Steeler, always a Steeler.” The statement kept the door open a bit for Brown’s eventual return despite Tomlin’s other assertion that the team had no “current” interest. Does this mean he and the Steelers could have interest later on should Brown make a few necessary changes in his attitude and actions? Smith’s co-host Max Kellerman felt Tomlin was definitely still open to signing Brown sometime in the future, commenting that the “only thing I heard from Mike Tomlin was that he’s open to an Antonio Brown reunion.”
While it’s clear Tomlin and the Steelers are staying away from Brown currently, Tomlin’s suggestion that Brown will always be a member of the team has certainly raised more than a few eyebrows.