Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph denies a report he used a racial slur that sparked a helmet-swinging brawl in the November 14 game between the Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.
In an appeal hearing with the NFL on Wednesday, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett accused Rudolph of using the slur, according to ESPN.
The Steelers issued a statement responding to the ESPN report.
“Mason vehemently denies the report of being accused of using a racial slur during the incident Thursday night in Cleveland,” the Steelers said. “He will not discuss this accusation any further and his focus remains on preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.”
On Thursday, the NFL announced Garrett will remain suspended indefinitely for “removing the helmet of an opponent and using the helmet as a weapon.”
The NFL said Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey’s original discipline of a three-game suspension has been reduced to a two-game suspension for his role in the fight. Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi lost his appeal and will remain suspended for one game.
When asked about the accusation, the NFL Players Association had no comment.
CNN has reached out to Garrett’s agent, the Browns, and the NFL for comment but have yet to hear back.
Appeals officers Derrick Brooks and James Thrash, who were jointly appointed by the NFL and the Players Association, ruled on all three appeals cases.
Rudolph, Garrett have apologized
On Wednesday, Rudolph met with reporters to apologize for not handling the melee better. When asked if he had said or done anything to trigger Garrett’s helmet-swinging attack, Rudolph said, “I definitely didn’t say anything that escalated it. But like I said, I have to do a better job of keeping my composure in those situations and I think it was an unfortunate situation for both teams involved.”
Garrett apologized last Friday, saying: “I made a terrible mistake.”
“I lost my cool and what I did was selfish and unacceptable,” Garrett’s statement read. “I know that we are all responsible for our actions and I can only prove my true character through my actions moving forward.
The fight started with seconds left in the game, when Garrett — a defensive end and first overall pick in the 2017 draft — took Rudolph to the ground after Rudolph completed a meaningless screen pass. They tussled on the ground, with Rudolph appearing to tug at the back of Garrett’s helmet.
Then Garrett got to his feet and pulled off Rudolph’s helmet. Pittsburgh guard David DeCastro pushed Garrett away, but Rudolph got up and chased them. Then Garrett swung the helmet onto the former Oklahoma State quarterback’s head.