It’s become rather apparent, I think, that we have no heard the last of the racial slur allegation that Cleveland Browns defender Myles Garrett claims Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph directed toward him three months ago.
Everybody assumed that was all water under the bridge when the defender was reinstated following his indefinite suspension stemming from the fact that he beat Rudolph over the head with his own helmet during the same sequence in which he claims Rudolph called him a “stupid N-word”.
We only know specifically what Garrett claims Rudolph called him because the former gave an interview with ESPN in which he claims that is what he heard. It was the first thing that he did publicly after being reinstated, and it’s not entirely clear why he chose to do that.
Since reiterating his claim, the NFL has reiterated that it has found no corroborating evidence to support his claim, while noting that it would not have had on-field audio available for the time the statement was alleged to have been said. They spoke to a number of players as well as officials who were in the vicinity, and nobody gave them any indications that they had heard anything said.
Rudolph himself also responded, calling it a “bold-faced lie”, and head coach Mike Tomlin also gave a pretty extensive statement having his player’s back, noting that he spoke with a number of Browns players at that time, who expressed sorrow over what Garrett had done, none of them giving any hint that there was a racial undertone to the incident.
The most significant statement made, however, came from Rudolph’s lawyer. In part, it reads, “although Mr. Rudolph had hoped to move forward, it is Mr. Garrett who has decided to utter this defamatory statement—in California. He is now exposed to legal liability”. Emphasis mine.
— Younger & Associates/QB Limited (@YoungerAssoc) February 15, 2020
After Garrett assaulted Rudolph with the helmet, his representatives left open the possibility of pursuing legal action, possibly pressing charges against him. Now they are leaving open the possibility of suing for defamation.
It is hard to believe, though not impossible, that Garrett would go through all this if he did not sincerely believe that he heard a racial slur being uttered. The problem for him is that, even if it were said, it’s impossible for him to prove it.
The only thing that he can possibly gain from this is having the piece of mind of knowing that he is doing what he feels is right in making sure that his side of the story is at least told. And this is assuming that it’s not entirely a fabrication, or in Rudolph’s words, a “bold-faced lie”.
The next time we hear about this matter, it could be in the form of the announcement of a lawsuit. I’m not even close to a legal expert; still, I can’t help but imagine he would have a fairly solid case, given that Garrett has no evidence to present to support his claim, barring the production of witnesses at the 11th hour.