The NFL said Thursday it found “no such evidence” that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph hurled a racial slur at Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett prior to their brawl last week.
One of the bigger reasons the league didn’t have evidence to support Garrett’s claim was because the NFL didn’t have any recorded sound from the game, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported. While the offensive linemen are mic’d up to enhance sound from quarterbacks, it is not recorded for use after the game is over. FOX Sports cameras also failed to capture sound of the incident.
According to the Plain-Dealer, the NFL used a referee’s official report and the available camera angles. Clete Blakeman said he did not hear a racial slur during the skirmish between Garrett and Rudolph.
Garrett’s allegation that Rudolph used a racial slur was brought to light in his appeal of his indefinite suspension, ESPN reported. He said in a statement after the suspension was upheld that he knew what he heard in regards to the slur.
“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,” he said in a statement. “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.”
Garrett added: “I know what I heard. 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.”
Rudolph denied using a racial slur in a statement released through the Steelers.
“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 to ESPN. “He will not discuss this accusation any further and his focus remains on preparation for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.”
Rudolph’s agent also denied his client used the slur.
“According to ESPN, in his appeal, Myles Garrett falsely asserted that Mason Rudolph uttered a racial slur toward him, prior to swinging a helmet at Mason's uncovered head, in a desperate attempt to mitigate his suspension. This is a lie. This false allegation was never asserted by Garrett in the aftermath of the game, never suggested prior to the hearing, and conspicuously absent in the apology published by the Browns and adopted by Garrett,” Rudolph’s agent said in a statement.
“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. This is reckless and shameful. We will have no further comment.”
Rudolph is expected to be fined for his role in the brawl, but discipline has yet to be announced.