More than a week after Myles Garrett’s on-field attack of Mason Rudolph upended the NFL world, controversy still swirls over what happened to spark last Thursday’s Browns-Steelers brawl.
News broke on Thursday that Garrett told NFL officials during his appeal of his indefinite suspension that Rudolph directed a racial slur toward him before the Browns defensive lineman ripped the Steelers quarterback’s helmet off and swung it at his head.
Rudolph denied the accusation through a team statement from the Steelers and spoke publicly about the accusation for the first time on Sunday after Pittsburgh’s 16-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
‘It’s totally untrue’
He was adamant in his refute.
“It’s totally untrue,” Rudolph told reporters. “I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that he would go that route after the fact. It is what it is. I think I’ve moved on.”
When pressed on whether he might have said anything to provoke Garrett, Rudolph stood firm.
“Absolutely not,” Rudolph said. ... “Nothing, not even close.”
Rudolph said last week he didn’t say anything to Garrett
After calling Garrett “cowardly” in the immediate aftermath of the incident, Rudolph issued a prepared statement last week apologizing for not keeping his composure while saying that he had no ill-will toward Garrett.
When answering questions after the statement, Rudolph told reporters he “definitely didn’t say anything” to provoke Garrett.
This statement arrived before Garrett’s accusation of a racial slur was made public.
He used Sunday’s postgame media session to hammer that point home with a notably different tone.
Garrett stood by his accusation on Thursday with a Twitter statement that he didn’t intend the allegation to go public, but that “I know what I heard.”
No known audio exists
The NFL responded to the report on Thursday by stating that there’s “no such evidence” that Rudolph directed a racial slur at Garrett on the field.
Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot later reported the NFL didn’t have on-field audio to rely on during its investigation of the incident.
So it appears that unless somebody has audio stashed away proving what was or wasn’t said in the moments leading up the brawl, we’re left to depend on conflicting accounts from Rudolph and Garrett.
The Browns and Steelers meet again next Sunday. Garrett won’t be on the field as he continues to serve his suspension. And Rudolph may not be either after being benched in Sunday’s win over the Bengals.
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