Defensive end Myles Garrett was reinstated to the Cleveland Browns on Feb. 12 after being suspended for assaulting another player.
The incident happened on Nov. 15, in a Thursday Night NFL game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when Garrett hit quarterback Mason Rudolph on the head with the back of his own helmet.
According to Garrett, Rudolph used a racial slur, which is the reason Garrett swung at him with his helmet shortly after he was called for a late hit, with just 10 seconds to play in the game.
According to ESPN, after the game, Rudolph didn’t press charges against Garrett for assaulting him with a helmet, but he was fined 50k for starting the conflict, and Garrett faced a season-ending suspension.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said that he supported Rudolph, saying that if he did use a racial slur then it would have been obvious right after the game. They were also looking at tape, which showed no signs of a racial slur used in the brawl.
If Rudolph did use the language that Garrett said he did, there would have been many more conflicts surrounding the issue within the NFL, and Rudolph would have been fined more, or even possibly suspended from the league. According to ESPN, there was no such evidence that Rudolph directed a racial slur to Garrett.
Garrett said, “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 Brown, and our devoted fans.”
Earlier the next day, Rudolph denied all the accusations, and he did not discuss the incident any further.
According to USA Today, following Garrett´s interview on the ESPN channel, Rudolph’s agency tweeted a statement that Garrett is now exposed to legal liability, but it seems very unlikely that this dispute will go to court. And there will likely be no way of settling the two different accounts of the situation, which makes this understanding more complicated.
It also said that both of these players will likely spend the rest of their NFL careers debating what actually happened and who started the brawl.