Mason Rudolph had remained quiet in the wake of Myles Garrett again accusing him of using a racial slur during an on-field brawl that took place between the Steelers and Browns in a Nov. 14 game at Cleveland.
But apparently head coach Mike Tomlin has had enough of it.
Tomlin released a statement through the Steelers on Saturday expressing his support for Rudolph.
— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) February 15, 2020
"I support Mason Rudolph not only because I know him, but also because I was on that field following that altercation with Myles Garrett, and subsequently after the game," Tomlin said. "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. I my conversations, I had a lot of expressions of sorrow for what had transpired. I received no indication of anything racial or anyting of that nature in those interactions."
A week after the brawl, Garrett claimed at his appeals hearing with the NFL that Rudolph had used a racial slur against him, though he didn't say anything about it following the game or in the days that passed.
Garrett again raised the issue in an interview on ESPN earlier this week after he was reinstated by the NFL following an indefinite suspension.
"He called me the N-word,” Garrett told ESPN's Mina Kimes. “He called me a ‘stupid N-word.'”
Rudolph vehemently denied that when the news broke during the season and has refused to talk further about the incident, though he did issue a Tweet attached to the ESPN report.
I did not, have not, and would not utter a racial-slur.
This is a disgusting and reckless attempt to assassinate my character. https://t.co/mZcEcC0tCl
— Mason Rudolph (@Rudolph2Mason) February 15, 2020
His lawyer and agent, Timothy Younger, released a statement on Twitter Saturday morning saying there could be legal issues now involved.
— Younger & Associates/QB Limited (@YoungerAssoc) February 15, 2020
“Mr. Garrett maliciously uses this false allegation to coax sympathy, hoping to be excused for what clearly is inexcusable behavior,” Younger wrote. “Despite other players and the referee being in the immediate vicinity, there are zero corroborating witnesses — as confirmed by the NFL. Although Mr. Rudolph had hoped to move forward, it is Mr. Garrett who has decided to utter this defamatory statement — in California. He is now exposed to legal liability.”
Garrett received his indefinite suspension for yanking the helmet from Rudolph's head during the incident and then hitting him over the head with it.
In addition to Garrett, Browns defensive end Larry Ogunjobie was suspended one game for running in and shoving Rudolph to the ground from behind, while Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey received a three-game suspension — reduced to two upon appeal — for punching and kicking Garrett.
All told, 53 players, including Rudolph, received fines for the incident. Rudolph’s appeal of his $50,000 fine was denied earlier this week.
Tomlin is absolutely correct on this. Does anyone seriously think that in the hours and days that followed this incident that nobody in the Browns organization would have told the Steelers that Garrett was reacting to Rudolph using a racial slur against Garrett?
Tomlin was in contact with people within the Browns organization. So was Steelers president Art Rooney II. And it never came up.
At least not until it was time for Garrett to go try to plead his case before the league a week later.
Quite frankly, Garrett has been caught in a lie. And he continues to lie about it because he can't back away from it now.
Disagree with that all you like, but the facts back Rudolph on this. Nobody else heard it. The NFL investigated and found no basis for the claim from the many microphones it has on the field.
The only person saying it happened is Garrett. Meanwhile, everyone who was around the two when Garrett took Rudolph to the ground, said they heard nothing of the sort.
As for any potential lawsuits, the fact Younger mentioned that Garrett's interview with ESPN took place in California was interesting. California juries and rulings are seen by many to be much more liberal in their judgments than many other states.
But, NFL/NFLPA rules might prohibit one player suing another for an incident that took place on the field. Rudolph and his attorneys could now argue, however, that Garrett has taken this beyond the football field by making his claims four months after the fact in a television interview.
Remember, there is some precedent. Chuck Noll and the Steelers were sued by Raiders defensive back George Atkinson -- and Steelers corner Mel Blount -- in 1977 after the Steelers head coach said Atkinson was part of the "criminal element" in the NFL.
Atkinson lost the case, but it was allowed to move forward at the time.
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