Steelers' Mike Tomlin defends Mason Rudolph after Myles Garrett doubles down on racial slur claim

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin came out in defense of Mason Rudolph on Monday after Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett doubled down on his claim that the quarterback used a racial slur against him to spark November’s helmet-swinging incident.

Tomlin appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” and talked to host Stephen A. Smith, expressing frustration with the accusations.

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“The most recent one this past weekend, I took offense to it, to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin said. “I fully support Mason Rudolph. We, as an organization, fully support Mason Rudolph. To be quite honest with you, we were hacked off by what we saw this weekend. I think [Rudolph's] reputation needs to be defended and defended aggressively.”

Garrett reiterated the claim last week that Rudolph used a slur against him. He said Rudolph called “me a ‘stupid N-word,” sparking the brawl in which he ripped the quarterback’s helmet off and hit him in the head with it. Garrett was suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season and was reinstated earlier in February.

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“These accusations are serious, not only in terms of Mason Rudolph's character, but his professional pursuits,” Tomlin said Monday. “Nobody on that field, as a member of the Cleveland Browns or the Pittsburgh Steelers, corroborated what was said by Myles Garrett. ... At no point during that piece this weekend was that stated.

“It was presented as a he-said-he-said situation, even to this day. I think the National Football League office was very clear that they launched a thorough investigation among all parties involved, including interviewing the people and the analysis of technology that was on that field, and found no evidence of Myles' allegation, and I think that should be stated.”

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Rudolph’s agent Tim Younger suggested Saturday that Garrett opened himself up for potential legal action for claiming again that his client used a racial slur toward the defensive end.

The NFL said at the time there was “no such evidence” to back Garrett’s claim. League spokesman Brian McCarthy referred to the original statement on the incident.

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“As we said at the time the allegation was made, we looked into the matter and found no such evidence,” McCarthy said. “There was no sound recorded from the field during that game. As with every game, there were microphones on the center or interior linemen that help amplify the ambient sound as the quarterbacks were calling signals at the line of scrimmage. But they do not record sound. Microphones are opened from the break of the huddle (or when the center places his hand on the ball in a no-huddle offense) through the snap of the ball.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.