CLEVELAND (WJW)-- Browns defensive end Myles Garrett told NFL officials that Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph used a racial slur leading up to their fight, ESPN reported on Thursday.
An on-field fight broke out during the last 8 seconds of the Browns and Steelers game on Nov. 14. It escalated when Garrett ripped off Rudolph's helmet and hit him in the head with it. The NFL banned Garrett for the final six regular-season games and playoffs
ESPN reported Garrett made the accusation during his appeal hearing on Wednesday. Appeals officer James Thrash "remained stoic and took copious notes" while listening to Garrett, according to ESPN.
Rudolph denied saying anything to Garrett to provoke him when he read a prepared statement to reporters on Wednesday. The Steelers released the following statement:
“Mason vehemently denies the report of being accused of using a racial slur during the incident Thursday night in Cleveland. He will not discuss this accusation any further and his focus remains on preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.”
Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens declined to speak about his conversation with Garrett when he was questioned by reporters on Thursday.
“What Myles and I talk about will stay between Myles and I. I am sure that Myles presented himself professionally like he has done ever since the moment it happened afterwards. He has been nothing but professional in his responses. I can’t really comment on the arbitrator’s decision. We will respect his decision on whatever he decides, and I know Myles presented himself professionally to the arbitrator and the hearing. I stand by Myles, and that is not going to waver," Kitchens said.
ESPN's Adam Schefter later reported the NFL looked into the allegations that Rudolph used a racial epithet and "found no such evidence."
Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was suspended one game and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was suspended three games for the incident. Ogunjobi's suspension was upheld, but his fine was rescinded. Pouncey's was reduced to two games.