Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph has denied reports he used a racial slur prior to a brawl sparked by his confrontation with Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.

“Mason vehemently denies the report of being accused of using a racial slur during the incident Thursday night in Cleveland,” Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said in a statement. “He will not discuss this accusation any further and his focus remains on preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.”

ESPN reported that Garrett had accused Rudolph of using the slur during the defensive end’s appeal hearing at NFL headquarters on Wednesday. Garrett was suspended indefinitely for his role in the fight, during which he hit Rudolph in the head with the quarterback’s own helmet.

“This false allegation was never asserted by Garrett in the aftermath of the game, never suggested prior to the hearing, and conspicuously absent in the apology published by the Browns and adopted by Garrett,” said Rudolph’s attorney, Timothy M Younger. “The malicious use of this wild and unfounded allegation is an assault on Mason’s integrity which is far worse than the physical assault witnessed on Thursday. This is reckless and shameful. We will have no further comment.”

The NFL upheld Garrett’s suspension on Thursday, and he will not play again this season. Rudolph has not received a suspension but is expected to receive a fine for his part in the brawl, which occurred in the final moments of last Thursday’s meeting between the Steelers and Browns.

Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr said on Thursday that he believed Garrett’s version of events. “I just don’t see Myles as someone who would lie or do anything like that,” Beckham said. “At this point, it is what it is. We’re all just kind of waiting and just hoping that justice is served.”

On Wednesday, Rudolph said he had taken exception to a “late” hit from Garrett. “We had already lost two of our players to targeting penalties from the game,” he said. “As I released the ball, I took a late shot. Did not agree with the way he then took me to the ground and my natural reaction was just to get him off from on top of me.” He also said he should not have confronted Garrett but made no mention of any slurs. The bottom line is I should’ve done a better job keeping my composure in that situation and fall short of what I believe it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and a member of the NFL.”



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