Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett doubled down Thursday on his allegation that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph directed a racial slur at him prior to the on-field brawl that resulted in Garrett's indefinite suspension.
Garrett made his initial allegation while seeking a reduction in the length of his suspension at an appeal hearing with NFL officials. The league upheld the terms of Garrett’s suspension on Thursday, ensuring that he will miss at least the remainder of the 2019 regular season and playoffs.
In his first public comment following the NFL’s decision, Garrett said that his allegation regarding the racial slur was “not meant for public dissemination.”
“I know what I heard,” Garrett wrote on Twitter. “Whether my opponent’s comment was born out of frustration or ignorance, I cannot say. But 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.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN that the league “found no such evidence” to suggest that Rudolph had used a racial slur prior to the altercation, which took place in the closing seconds of the Browns’ victory over the Steelers in last week’s “Thursday Night Football.” Garrett wrestled Rudolph to the ground, pulled off the quarterback’s helmet and hit him over the head with it.
In addition to his suspension, the NFL fined Garrett roughly $45,000 for his actions.
Rudolph’s attorney, Timothy Younger, denied that his client had used a racial slur at any point.
"The malicious use of this wild and unfounded allegation is an assault on Mason's integrity which is far worse than the physical assault witnessed on Thursday,” Younger said. “This is reckless and shameful. We will have no further comment."
Garrett will forfeit more than $1 million in salary during his absence. The NFL commissioner’s office will have to approve his reinstatement before the Browns star can return to the field next season.