By Ryan Gaydos, Frank Miles
Published November 21, 2019
The NFL has denied the appeal of Cleveland Browns star Myles Garrett, leaving his indefinite suspension standing, after a hearing in which he reportedly accused Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph of using a racial slur prior to their fight.
Garrett is banned for the final six regular-season games and playoffs.
Garrett released a statement Thursday night standing by his allegations.
“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,” Garrett said. “This was not meant for public dissemination, or was it a convenient attempt to justify my actions or restore my image in the eyes of those I disappointed. 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.”
Appeals officers Derrick Brooks and James Thrash, jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, reached their decisions, as the football league announced via Twitter.
Thrash also reduced the suspension for Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey from three games to two for punching and kicking Garrett following the assault on Rudolph.
Garrett claimed Rudolph used a racial slur prior to the start of their brawl, which escalated into the defensive end ripping off the quarterback’s helmet and hitting him with it, ESPN reported, citing sources. Similar claims were made on social media in the days after the fallout.
Rudolph denied the allegation through a team official -- and a league spokesman said investigators “found no such evidence.”
“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.”
The quarterback's agent also denied the allegation.
Rudolph also denied saying anything to escalate the fight when he addressed the brawl Wednesday in a prepared statement.
Garrett reportedly was asked in the hearing how he may act differently in the future and the defensive end said he would not let something like that escalate things.
Garrett tried to use a “precedent-based” argument during his hearing, according to ESPN. He reportedly cited a similar helmet-swinging incident involving Houston Texans Andre Smith and Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito in the 2013 preseason.
Smith received a three-game suspension, which included two preseason games for his actions.
Garrett has apologized. Rudolph was expected to be fined for his actions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.