Mason Rudolph denies claims made by Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett that the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback used a racist slur toward him during the final seconds of the teams’ game last week.
“Mason vehemently denies the report of being accused of using a racial slur during the incident Thursday night in Cleveland,” Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said in a statement. “He will not discuss this accusation any further and his focus remains on preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.”
In a separate statement, attorney Timothy M. Younger, who represents Rudolph, called the allegation “a lie” and “a desperate attempt to mitigate [Garrett’s] suspension.”
ESPN reported Thursday that Garrett made the claim during his appeal hearing for the indefinite suspension without pay he received for striking Mason’s unprotected head with a helmet during a brawl between the two teams. Garrett later confirmed the report on Twitter but said he never meant for his allegation to become public.
“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,” Garrett stated. “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.”
After the ESPN report was published, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said that the league looked into Garrett’s allegations “and found no such evidence,” according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Garrett said in his Twitter statement, “I know what I heard.”
He also expressed regret for his own actions, six days after initially apologizing to Rudolph and others the morning after the incident.
“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,” Garrett stated Thursday.
Also on Thursday, the NFL announced that Garrett’s suspension has been upheld. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey’s suspension for his role in the brawl was reduced from three games to two.
Rudolph was not suspended for his role in the incident. He did not speak to reporters Thursday but said Wednesday he had said nothing to provoke the attack by Garrett.
Cleveland coach Freddie Kitchens said Thursday he supports Garrett “in every way possible” but did not comment when asked if Garrett told Kitchens about the slur in the aftermath of the fight.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.