Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett says he considered quitting the NFL during his indefinite suspension last season for hitting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with Rudolph's helmet during an altercation in November.
"I did [consider retirement]," Garrett told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com in an interview released Wednesday. "Whether it was because of their decision or my decision, it was whether this was going to continue."
The 24-year-old Texas A&M product, who was reinstated in February, has maintained Rudolph used a racial slur amid the confrontation, telling ESPN's Mina Kimes: "He called me the N-word. He called me a 'stupid N-word.'" Rudolph called that assertion a "bold-faced lie."
Garrett told Cabot he's open to a conversation with Rudolph to settle their differences:
"If it were to happen, I'd be fine with it. Not just fine, but I wouldn't mind it and I'd be happy to make it happen, if there were a way. I'm not sure how I'd go about that, how I'd broach that. I'm not even sure if he'd want to do that but I wouldn't have a problem sitting down with him and just not talking about the incident, just talking man-to-man, how we move forward, and just being better men and football players and not letting something like that happen again.
"Whether we can do that, I'm not sure, but I'd be willing to extend the olive branch and make that happen."
The 2018 Pro Bowl selection decided to resume his NFL career and signed a five-year, $125 million contract extension with the Browns in July.
He told Cabot that retirement from football would have likely led him to try to play a different professional sport:
"I would've been OK. I love football. I love competing, I love my teammates, and I definitely want to win, but at the end of the day, I'm still a guy. I'm still a young man who has a lot of life to live and my life is much more than football. I just would've moved onto something else I enjoy and found another way to save my competitive nature, whether it would've been trying out for a basketball team or going to play baseball like [Michael] Jordan.
"I would've found something else I love to do, whether I was a writing coach or whatever. I would've left with my head held high and I wouldn't have looked back."
Instead, he's preparing to lead the Cleveland defense in its Week 1 clash with the AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Garrett has been one of the league's best edge-rushers since the Browns selected him with the first overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. He's recorded 30.5 sacks in 37 appearances along with 104 total tackles and six forced fumbles.
He told Cabot he'll reconsider his future after his new contract comes to an end.
"I'll cross that bridge when I come to it," Garrett said. "It's only the first year. However my body feels or wherever I'm at in my life with my friends and my family, I'll just take it in stride, and whatever happens, happens."
He'll play a crucial role as the Browns attempt to end their 17-year playoff drought, the longest in the NFL.