Suspended Garrett in 'shameful' race claim against Rudolph

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett claimed Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph used a racial slur against him before his wild helmet-swinging attack on the Steelers player, ESPN reported on Thursday.

Garrett made the claim -- strongly denied by representatives for Rudolph and the Steelers -- during an unsuccessful NFL appeal against his record suspension on Wednesday, ESPN reported.

On Thursday, the NFL upheld Garrett's ban, ensuring Garrett will miss at least the remainder of the season.

"Mason vehemently denies the report of being accused of using a racial slur during the incident Thursday night in Cleveland," the Steelers 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."

Rudolph's attorney Timothy Younger said the allegation of racism by Garrett was a "desperate attempt to mitigate his suspension" and questioned why the Cleveland player had not raised it before his appeal.

"This is a lie," Younger said in a statement. "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."

Garrett's attack on Rudolph shocked the NFL and prompted league chiefs to hand the Browns player the longest ban in the history of the sport for a single on-field incident.

The decision to uphold the suspension will see Garrett miss the Browns final six regular season games and any playoff games if Cleveland gets that far.

In the same statement, the league also said that Rudolph's Steeler teammate Maurkice Pouncey's three-game suspension would be reduced to two games.

Pouncey, who rushed to Rudolph's defence, will miss the Steelers' Week 13 rematch with the Browns and this Sunday's game at Cincinnati.

Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi's one-game suspension was upheld after he came into the brawl late and hit an unsuspecting Rudolph from behind knocking him to the ground.

In a statement issued after the league's suspension was announced last Friday, Garrett apologised to Rudolph and said his conduct had been "unacceptable."

"I made a terrible mistake," Garrett said. "I lost my cool and what I did was selfish and unacceptable."

"I want to apologize to Mason Rudolph, my teammates, our entire organization, our fans and to the NFL. I know I have to be accountable for what happened, learn from my mistake and I fully intend to do so."