Myles Garrett’s season is over. The Browns standout defensive end was suspended indefinitely, with the minimum length of suspension being the final six games of the 2019 regular season and any postseason games, after ripping the helmet off of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and, shortly after, hitting him in the head with said helmet.
It was as wild an NFL fight as we’ve seen since Andre Johnson and Cortland Finnegan ripped each others helmets off and then Johnson proceeded to punch Finnegan a few times in the face, and the league unsurprisingly jumped in swiftly with hefty punishment. Many were surprised at the way Garrett snapped, and many jumped to the idea that Rudolph must have said something at the start of the fracas to set him off.
On Thursday, Garrett insinuated just that, telling the NFL during his hearing that Rudolph said a racial slur to him, which was the reason he snapped in the manner he did, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Josina Anderson.
In an appeal with the NFL, Browns’ DE Myles Garrett alleged that Mason Rudolph called him a racial slur prior to last week's brawl on Thursday Night Football, sources told ESPN's Josina Anderson and me, an accusation the Steelers’ QB strongly denies.https://t.co/NUQfAJdo6B
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 21, 2019
Unsurprisingly, Rudolph’s attorneys released a statement swiftly denying the allegation from Garrett.
At this point, it is Garrett’s word against Rudolph’s and, for the moment, we won’t know which is telling the truth. However, what will be fascinating is whether the NFL looks into and is willing to release audio from NFL Films — which keeps as robust a log of everything said and done on the playing field as any sports league in the world — of the incident, or if the find (or at least say) they don’t have it.
Whatever the case, this is going to be messy and ugly. If they have the audio and Rudolph did say something, that will open a whole other can of worms — and one would expect probably be the end of Rudolph’s career. If they have audio and Rudolph doesn’t say any slurs, that will be quite the bad look for Garrett to make that claim falsely. If they say they don’t have audio, it will be a conspiracy theory immediately that they burned the tapes to cover up for Rudolph (or Garrett) because they have audio of just about everything else happening on the football field.