Steelers' Mike Tomlin defends ex-OSU star Mason Rudolph after Myles Garrett alleges use of racial slur
The Myles Garrett-Mason Rudolph saga took another turn on Saturday, with Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and Rudolph's representatives issuing separate statements denying claims by Garrett that the Steelers quarterback called the Browns defensive end a racial slur.
In an interview on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" on Thursday night, Garrett doubled down on his allegation that Rudolph called him the n-word moments before a brawl that took place in Week 11 between the AFC North rivals.
The NFL had suspended Garrett indefinitely for ripping off Rudolph's helmet during the melee and swinging it at him. The league reinstated Garrett on Wednesday.
Garrett and the Browns initially had apologized to the former Oklahoma State quarterback before Garrett's recent accusations surfaced.
"I support Mason Rudolph not only because I know him," Tomlin's statement read, "but also because I was on the 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.
"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 expression of sorrow for what transpired. I received no indication of anything racial or anything of that nature in those interactions."
Rudolph took to Twitter on Saturday, issuing a strong denial, calling Garrett's charges a "bold-faced lie." Rudolph also denied using the slur when reports first surfaced in November.
Rudolph's attorney released a statement on Saturday both emphatically denying Garrett's claim on behalf of Rudolph, but also indicating Garrett may have exposed himself to possible legal action with his remarks.
"Although Mr. Rudolph had hoped to move forward, it is Mr. Garrett who has decided to utter this defamatory statement — in California," Younger & Associates statement read in part. "He is now exposed to legal liability."
The brawl resulted in 33 instances of disciplinary action between the two teams and more than $730,000 in fines from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Garrett, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft, appealed his suspension, and first alleged Rudolph used the slur during his Nov. 20 hearing with the league. Rudolph issued a denial through his agent, Timothy Younger, and the NFL said it found no evidence to support Garrett's claim.