The NFL denied Saturday that it possesses any evidence of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph using a racial slur toward Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett during a Week 11 game last season.
ESPN's Jake Trotter provided the statement on Twitter:
Late in Pittsburgh's 21-7 loss the Cleveland in Week 11 last season, Garrett pulled off Rudolph's helmet and hit him in the head with it. As a result, Garrett was suspended for the remainder of the season. The NFL reinstated him this week.
In quotes from an ESPN Outside The Lines interview with Mina Kimes (h/t Trotter) released Thursday, Garrett doubled down on his previous accusation that Rudolph baited him by using a racial slur: "He called me the N-word. He called me a 'stupid N-word.'"
Garrett added: "I know something was said. 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."
Rudolph took to Twitter on Saturday and once again denied using a racial slur:
Although the NFL found no evidence that Rudolph used a racial slur against Garrett, he was fined $50,000 for the role he played in the melee.
Garrett was on to beat his career-best single-season sack total (13.5) prior to the suspension with 10 sacks through 10 games. In his absence, the Browns went just 2-4 and finished the season with a disappointing 6-10 record.
Meanwhile, Rudolph was replaced by Devlin "Duck" Hodges as the Steelers' starting quarterback the following game, although he returned in Week 16 against the Jets before getting injured.
The Browns and Steelers met again two weeks after the incident involving Garrett and Rudolph, but with Garrett suspended and Rudolph not starting the game, tempers didn't flare.
The Browns and Steelers will face each other twice in 2020 as always, and Garrett will be back in the lineup barring injury. Rudolph figures to serve in a backup role provided veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns to full health after missing all but two games last season.