Mason Rudolph Talks Myles Garrett's Racial Slur Allegation, Steelers Benching

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2019

CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 24: Mason Rudolph #2 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is seen before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph has found himself in headlines ever since his Nov. 14 scuffle with Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.

In the closing moments of a 21-7 Week 11 loss to Cleveland, Rudolph got tangled up with Garrett on the ground before the Browns star yanked the Steelers quarterback's helmet off and subsequently hit him in the head with it. Garrett was suspended indefinitely, with the remainder of the 2019 regular season and postseason serving as the minimum punishment.

Garrett appealed his suspension and said Rudolph used a racial slur on the field, which caused him to respond aggressively. Rudolph denied the allegation, and the NFL upheld Garrett's suspension as it "found no such evidence" of a racial slur.

Rudolph told ESPN's Brooke Pryor in an interview published Thursday that Garrett's accusation has been hard not only on him, but on his entire family:

"I think that specific allegation, it affects my family. It's tough for them to see something so false be circulated about my family name. That's tough.

"But Coach [Mike] Tomlin talked about, when in the spotlight, you expect those types of things to be said and you've got to block it out and move on. And that's what I've done, and that's what I'll continue to do."

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

In his first game since the melee, Rudolph (8-of-16 passing, 85 yards, zero touchdowns, one interception) was benched after struggling during Pittsburgh's Week 12 clash with the winless Cincinnati Bengals. Undrafted free agent Devlin Hodges led the Steelers to a 16-10 victory in relief after entering the game in the third quarter.

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin has already named Hodges the starter for Sunday's rematch against the Browns, saying the rookie "has not killed us."

Though he wants to play, the 24-year-old Rudolph made it clear to Pryor he is willing to be a team player:

"You handle it with a good attitude, with a team-first attitude. I can only control how I react and how hard I prepare, knowing that I'm one play away. I'm going to support the guy, knowing that this is a crazy game and you've got to be ready when your number is called. I will be ready, for sure."

The second-year pro also noted Tomlin told him the switch to Hodges was not a "final decision."

Getting benched is never easy for any player, but Rudolph pointed out he has experienced similar situations in the past and managed to persevere.

"I'd been benched once in college for a half and once in high school. So yeah, there's some past experiences you do draw from. I conquered that, and I think I'll conquer this the same way. Just going to be a matter of staying true to myself and believing in myself and staying in the fight."

Filling in for an injured Ben Roethlisberger, Rudolph has gone 5-3 in eight starts this season. He has completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 1,636 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Related

    Cam Heyward Wants to Retire with Steelers Amid Contract Discussions

    Pittsburgh Steelers logo
    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Cam Heyward Wants to Retire with Steelers Amid Contract Discussions

    Megan Armstrong
    via Bleacher Report

    NFL to Donate Additional $20M

    League commits additional contribution this year to the Inspire Change campaign to help address systemic racism

    NFL logo
    NFL

    NFL to Donate Additional $20M

    Paul Kasabian
    via Bleacher Report

    Jamal Adams: Brees, Jake Fromm Can Save Their 'Bulls--t Ass Apologies'

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Jamal Adams: Brees, Jake Fromm Can Save Their 'Bulls--t Ass Apologies'

    Rob Goldberg
    via Bleacher Report

    Packers CEO Donates $250K to Social Justice Causes

    NFL logo
    NFL

    Packers CEO Donates $250K to Social Justice Causes

    Megan Armstrong
    via Bleacher Report