Earlier this week, Myles Garrett got some very good news. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ended his indefinite suspension, clearing his path to return to the Cleveland Browns after missing the final six games of the 2019 season.
We assumed all was OK between Garrett and Mason Rudolph, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, whose head Garrett hit with Rudolph’s helmet at the end of the Browns-Steelers game on Nov. 14.
You’ll recall that after Garrett sacked Rudolph, the two of them began battling while they were still on the ground. Once on his feet, Rudolph rushed at Garrett who then wrestled Rudolph’s helmet off and swung it at the QB, hitting him on the head.
During the time Garrett was serving his suspension, he claimed in a tweet his temper tantrum was set off by Rudolph’s use of a racial slur. That claim was strongly denied by Rudolph.
“I couldn’t believe it,” the quarterback said Nov. 24. “I couldn’t believe he would go that route after the fact.”
The NFL said its study of the incident revealed no evidence the quarterback had said anything racially tinged.
“I know what I heard,” Garrett said at the time.
But on Thursday, Garrett raised the issue again during an interview with ESPN’s “Outside The Lines.”
“He called me the N-word,” Garrett told Outside the Lines’ Mina Kimes. “He called me a ‘stupid N-word.'”
We can’t be sure what Garrett’s intention is by revisiting the incident, whether he wants to transfer the blame to Rudolph. But it’s clearly an effort to again provide a plausible reason for losing his temper.
Not only did the suspension hurt Garrett’s reputation and end what had been a really good season (10 sacks in 10 games), but it cost him almost $1.2 million in lost wages and a fine of $45,623.
Garrett told Kimes he wanted to avoid making his allegation public.
“I didn’t want to try to use it as justification for my actions, ’cause there’s nothing to justify. Like there’s, there’s nothing that I can say or do to justify what I did on that day. … [But] I know what I heard.”
In the interview, Garrett also blamed Rudolph for starting the fight that quickly led to a brawl that caused the league to punish 33 players.
“I don’t say the N-word, whether it’s with ‘a’ [or] ‘er.’ To me, personally, [it] just shouldn’t be said, whether it’s by family, friends, anyone,” Garrett said. “I don’t want to use it because I don’t want [people to] find that appropriate around me for anyone to use.
“When he said it, it kind of sparked something, but I still tried to let it go and still walk away. But once he came back, it kind of reignited the situation. And not only have you escalated things past what they needed to be with such little time in the game left, now you’re trying to reengage and start a fight again. It’s definitely not entirely his fault; it’s definitely both parties doing something that we shouldn’t have been doing.”
ESPN reached out to Rudolph’s lawyer and the NFL for comment after Garrett’s interview. The Steelers reiterated Rudolph’s innocence. The attorney did not immediately respond.
“I know something was said,” Garrett told Kimes. “Now whether the NFL wants to acknowledge it, that’s up to them. But I don’t want to make it a racial thing, honestly. It’s over with for me. And I’m pretty sure it’s over with for Mason. So we just wanna move past and keep on playing football.”
Unfortunately for both of them, Garrett’s comments again make it a racial thing as the public tries to decide who to believe.