CLEVELAND, Ohio — The NFL had no recorded sound from the field in determining that there was no evidence that Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph hurled a racial slur at Myles Garrett, a league source told cleveland.com.
After Garrett argued in his appeal hearing that Rudolph hurled the slur at him, the NFL investigated.
“We looked into it and found no such evidence,’’ NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told cleveland.com in an email response.
Instead of sound, the NFL based its conclusion on the game official’s report, and any camera angles available, the source said. Referee Clete Blakeman was in close proximity to Garrett and Rudolph as they scuffled, and did not hear a racial slur, according to the officials’ report.
Although interior offensive linemen are mic’d up during the game to enhance the audio of the broadcast, specifically sound from the quarterback, that audio is not typically recorded for use or available after the game is over.
What’s more, there was no audio available from any of the Fox Sports cameras at the game that captured sound from the incident. Camera angles of the struggle between Garrett and Rudolph didn’t provide evidence that a racial slur was used.
In addition, Garrett was not mic’d up by the Browns this week for their “Buildiing the Browns” in-house television show that airs on News 5 and on the team’s website, clevelandbrowns.com. He was mic’d up for the previous home game against the Bills.
But Garrett tweeted Thursday night that he did, in fact, hear a racial slur from Rudolph.
“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,’’ Garrett said in a tweet. “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.’’
Garrett’s indefinite suspension without pay for a minimum of the final six games of the season and playoffs was upheld Thursday by appeals office James Thrash. On top of the minimum $1.14 million he’ll lose in six game checks, he was fined an additional $45,623. The argument of a racial slur apparently had no bearing on the decision of Thrash, who also upheld Larry Ogunjobi’s one-game suspension for shoving Rudolph down after he was struck.
Rudolph “vehemently denied” using a racial slur in a statement released by the Steelers, and Rudolph’s agent Tim Younger, called it blatantly false in a statement of his own.
“According to ESPN, in his appeal, Myles Garrett falsely asserted that Mason Rudolph uttered a racial slur toward him, prior to swinging a helmet at Mason’s uncovered head, in a desperate attempt to mitigate his suspension. This is a lie. 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.
“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.”
Browns GM John Dorsey weighed in on Garrett’s indefinite suspension Thursday night.
“As we’ve consistently stated, our organizational support for Myles will continue,’’ he said. “He’s a man of high character and unquestionable integrity. He was open and honest with us about the incident from the start. He has taken accountability for his actions on Thursday night and this situation will not define him. As an organization, our focus going forward remains on the task-at-hand, which is preparing for the Miami Dolphins.”
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