Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett told ESPN's Mina Kimes during an interview for Outside The Lines (h/t ESPN's Jake Trotter) that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph called him a "stupid N-word" before a massive brawl that occurred on Nov. 14 near the end of the Browns' 21-7 win.
Garrett took Rudolph's helmet and struck him in the head with it in a fight involving numerous players. The Browns' defensive star was suspended indefinitely and missed the final six games but had his ban removed on Wednesday.
Garrett told Kimes:
"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 re-engage 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.
"I don't say the N-word, whether it's with 'a' [or] 'er.' To me personally, just shouldn't be said, and whether it's by family, friends, anyone. I don't want to use it because I don't want [people to] find that appropriate around me for anyone to use."
In November, Garrett said Rudolph directed a racial slur at him before the brawl during an NFL appeals hearing, per ESPN. At the time, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league found "no such evidence."
Garrett "never intended for the accusation to become public," per Trotter, and released a statement after the appeals hearing saying, "I know what I heard":
"I was assured that the hearing was space that afforded the opportunity to speak openly and honestly about the incident that led to my suspension. This was not meant for public dissemination, nor was it a convenient attempt to justify my actions or restore my image in the eyes of those I disappointed.
"I know what I heard. Whether my opponent's comment was born out of frustration or ignorance, I cannot say. But his actions do not excuse my lack of restraint in the moment, and I truly regret the impact this has had on the league, the Browns and our devoted fans."
Rudolph, Rudolph's lawyer Timothy M. Younger and the Steelers have all released comments and statements denying the use of a racial slur directed toward Garrett.
Thirty-three players were disciplined following the fight, per Trotter, with punishments ranging from fines to Garrett's indefinite suspension. Rudolph received a $50,000 fine but was not suspended.
As for the Garrett interview, the piece will air in its entirety on Saturday at 9 a.m. ET, per Kimes.