Hours after a report surfaced that Myles Garrett accused Mason Rudolph of making a racial slur that sparked last Thursday's Steelers-Browns brawl, Garrett wrote on Twitter that he didn't expect his comments to be made public.
Additionally on that same second-quarter play, Cleveland defensive end Chad Thomas hit Rudolph to the head; he was fined $21,056 for that hit. His appeal was denied this week when he told appeals officer James Thrash that Rudolph used a racial slur against him.
Rudolph has already denied the claim, telling reporters Wednesday that he didn't say anything to provoke Garrett or escalate the situation.
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Other players also were expected to be fined for their roles in the melee.
"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". The two men tussled on the ground before Garrett ripped off Rudolph's helmet.
Rudolph avoided suspension for his actions - he tried to pull off Garrett's helmet and charged him - but was one of 33 players fined by the league for their involvement. This is reckless and shameful. During the hearing, Garrett also reportedly used a precedent-based argument, citing the NFL's punishment of former Houston Texans player Antonio Smith, who was suspended in 2013 for one regular-season game and two preseason games for swinging his helmet at former Miami Dolphins player Richie Incognito.
"I think we've just got to own up to our mistakes as men", Heyward said. "Mason's dealing with that, he's going to be labeled for it, and that's not right".
"I don't condone racial slurs ever", Heyward said.