Ex-Browns star criticizes Steelers' Mason Rudolph over statement on melee

Former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman Joe Thomas ripped Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph over the player’s prepared statement on his role in a brawl with Myles Garrett.

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Thomas, a six-time All-Pro and 10-time Pro Bowl tackle, criticized Rudolph for reading off a piece of paper when addressing reporters about the melee. Thomas took issue that it took nearly a week for Rudolph to speak about the fight.

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“If we’re going to do prepared statement apologies 6 days after an incident, wouldn’t the statement being accurate be somewhat important? I mean, they had 6 days to come up with this statement and this is the best they can do?” he tweeted.

When one Twitter user suggested that Rudolph’s statement showed the quarterback didn’t want to take accountability for his role in the brawl, Thomas responded, “It shows, and sounds like it. It’s off-putting to me when he starts talking for Myles. First rule in media and accountability: talk for yourself and only yourself.”

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Rudolph said in the statement he reacted to what he felt like was a “late shot” from Garrett. He said that’s why he started to tug at the defensive lineman’s helmet, which escalated the skirmish.

“The way I saw it, on the final play of the game with the game in hand the way it was, it had been, we had already lost two of our players to targeting penalties from the game,” he said. “As I released the ball, I took a late shot. Did not agree with the way he took me to the ground and my natural reaction was to get him from off on top of me. And again, I should have done a better job of handling that situation.”

Rudolph added: “I have no ill will toward Myles Garrett, great respect for his ability as a player and I know if Myles could go back he would handle the situation differently. As for my involvement last week, there is no acceptable excuse. The bottom line is I should have done a better job keeping my composure in that situation. It falls short of what I believe it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and a member of the NFL. I understand there's going to be a few questions but I think it's in the best interest of our team, my teammates, our coaches to kind of move forward from this and move things on to the Cincinnati Bengals and keep on trying to stack some wins here.”

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Rudolph denied using any derogatory language that may have caused the situation to escalate. He is expected to be fined for his role in the brawl.