That did not take long.
Shortly ESPN’s Outside the Lines aired the interview on Saturday morning where Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett reiterated that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph used the “N-word” to ignite a brawl at the end of the November 14 game, the Steelers and Rudolph fired back.
First up was a statement from Tim Younger, Rudolph’s agent and attorney, threatening legal action against Garrett:
“We waited to hear the entire interview. Garrett, after originally apologizing to Mason Rudolph, has made the ill advised choice of publishing the belated and false accusation that Mr. Rudolph uttered a racial slur on the night in question. Note that Mr. Garrett claims that Mr. Rudolph uttered the slur simultaneously with being taken down, and before Mr. Garrett committed a battery by strike Mr. Rudolph on the head with a 6 lb helmet.
“His claim is ludicrous. This obviously was not the first time Mr. Rudolph had been sacked by an African American player. Mr. Garrett maliciously uses this false allegation to coax sympathy, hoping to be excused for what clearly is inexcusable behavior.
“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.”
Rudolph also took to Twitter to defend his honor:
1000% False.— Mason Rudolph (@Rudolph2Mason) February 15, 2020
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
Finally, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin released a statement via the team’s official website:
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.
The Browns have yet to release a statement so far. The NFL Office initially remained quiet as well, before issuing a statement on Saturday afternoon that continues to say that there is no audio from the final moments of the game that could prove who is telling the truth:
NFL statement, in light of Myles Garrett insinuating in the OTL interview that the league might be withholding evidence: pic.twitter.com/jGbLGzpkzy— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) February 15, 2020
It is clear, however, from today’s events that the incident is far from over.