Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has again said that Steelers QB Mason Rudolph used a racial slur toward him, sparking the mid-November brawl.
"He called me the N-word," Garrett told Outside the Lines' Mina Kimes during an interview that aired Thursday night on SportsCenter. "He called me a 'stupid N-word.'"
Garrett was suspended indefinitely by the NFL for his role in the brawl, but was reinstated Wednesday and will be able to join the team and participate in offseason workouts when they begin in April.
The Browns DE leveled the same allegation in the wake of the incident, but in November the league found "no such evidence" of the slur during its prior investigation, league spokesperson Brian McCarthy said at the time.
During his appeal hearing with the NFL in November, Garrett accused Rudolph of using the racial slur, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson and Adam Schefter. The accusation "created an argumentative exchange between both sides about whether the allegation was permissible," ESPN reported at the time.
Rudolph has called the allegation "totally untrue."
"I couldn't believe it," the quarterback said Nov. 24. "I couldn't believe he would go that route after the fact."
In November, Rudolph's attorney, Tim Younger, called the allegation "wild and unfound" in a statement on Twitter.
In Garrett's recent interview with ESPN, he described the incident in the following manner:
"When he said it, it kind of sparked something, but I still tried to let it go and still walk away. But once he came back, it kind of reignited the situation. And not only have you escalated things past what they needed to be with such little time in the game left, now you're trying to re-engage and start a fight again. It's definitely not entirely his fault, it's definitely both parties doing something that we shouldn't have been doing.
"I don't say the N-word, whether it's with 'a' [or] 'er.' To me personally, just shouldn't be said, and whether it's by family, friends, anyone, I don't want to use it because I don't want [people to] find that appropriate around me for anyone to use."
He also hinted at an NFL coverup of audio that he believes existed.
"Most quarterbacks wear mics in their helmets,'' he said. "He somehow lost his helmet and had to get another one without a mic. There were guys who were mic’d up near me—near us—during that time who didn’t hear anything, and from what I’ve heard, there [may] have been audio during that game that could’ve heard something or could not have heard something, but they don’t want to say.
"So something was said. I know something was said. Now, whether the NFL wants to acknowledge it, that’s up to them."
The Texas A&M product missed the final six games of the regular season and lost roughly $1.2 million in pay, plus a fine of $45,623, as a result of the incident.
"We welcome Myles back to our organization with open arms," Browns general manager Andrew Berry said upon Garrett's reinstatement. "We know he is grateful to be reinstated, eager to put the past behind him and continue to evolve and grow as a leader. We look forward to having his strong positive presence back as a teammate, player and person in our community."