Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph flatly denied a claim by Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett that Rudolph directed a racial slur at him prior to the melee at the end of the game between the teams in November.
"1000% False. 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," tweeted Rudolph.
Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin stood by his Rudolph's account in a statement on Saturday.
"I support Mason Rudolph not only because I know him, but also because I was on the field immediately following the altercation with Myles Garrett, and subsequently after the game," the statement reds, in part.
"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 expressions of sorrow for what transpired. I received no indication of anything racial or anything of that nature in those interactions."
They were referring to an Outside the Lines interview that aired on ESPN Thursday.
"He called me the N-word," Garrett told ESPN reporter Mina Kimes in the interview. "He called me a 'stupid N-word.'"
Garrett received an indefinite suspension from the NFL for his actions during the waning moments of the Browns' 21-7 win over the Steelers on Nov. 14. Garrett ripped off Rudolph's helmet and used it to strike the quarterback on the top of his unprotected head during an ugly brawl on national television.
The indefinite suspension ultimately cost Garrett the final six games of the 2019 regular season. He was reinstated by the league on Wednesday.
Multiple outlets reported in November that during Garrett's appeal hearing, he claimed that Rudolph used a racial slur, which sparked the on-field brawl. In Thursday's ESPN piece, Garrett said he never intended for the initial accusation to become public, adding that he didn't want it to look like he was justifying his actions. But he said, 'I know what I heard."
Rudolph has denied Garrett's allegation from the outset.
"I couldn't believe it," Rudolph said in November. "I couldn't believe he would go that route after the fact."
--Field Level Media