Last week the NFL reinstated Cleveland Browns Linebacker Myles Garrett. Garrett was suspended back in November for pulling off the helmet of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and then hitting him over the head with it.
As outrage over the incident grew, Garrett then claimed that Rudolph used the n-word during the altercation.
Over the weekend, Garrett was interview by ESPN where he once again repeated the claim that Rudolph used the n-word.
This did not sit well with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. Tomlin released a statement saying:
I support Mason Rudolph not only because I know him, but also because I was on that field immediately following the altercation with Myles Garrett, and subsequently after the game. 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.”
Then yesterday he appeared on ESPN to defend Rudolph from Garrett’s claim.
Tomlin pointed out that the NFL’s investigation into Garrett’s allegation came back with zero evidence to support his claim.
He said, “[M]yself, personally, I was on the field immediately after the altercation and subsequently after the game. I got a lot of personal relationships within that organization, over there in Cleveland. At no point did anyone within that organization come forward and say, 'Mike, heads up, we got a situation here' or something of that nature that you would expect comes with those type of allegations. I fully support Mason Rudolph. We as an organization fully support Mason Rudolph and to be quite honest, we were hacked off at what we saw this weekend. Not specifically from Myles Garrett, he's been in the lane that he's in, but what was displayed by ESPN in that panel. The way that the situation was presented, I don't think was fair to Mason Rudolph and that's why I'm here."
He added that “these accusations are serious. Not only in terms of Mason Rudolph’s character but his professional pursuits . . . It’s been a lot of negativity around Mason Rudolph. He got fined $50,000 for essentially getting beat up. His reputation was tarnished for the allegations.”
Tomlin said that the Steelers players who were in the vicinity during the fight, no one of them heard what Garrett claims Rudolph said.
Tomlin said he didn’t know what other steps Rudolph will take when asked about a lawsuit, but wouldn’t blame him for aggressively defending his reputation in the face of Garrett’s allegation.
Over the weekend, Rudolph also responded to Garrett’s claim, writing “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.”
Rudolph’s agent also tweeted a statement suggesting they would be taking legal action.