Mike Tomlin Still Refuses to Admit Any Steelers Wrongdoing Over Brawl With Browns

Pete Smith

As the Outside the Lines interview with Myles Garrett has had time to simmer, the issue that sparked the brawl between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers has been getting relitigated. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was given the opportunity to appear on ESPN's First Take and defended his quarterback, Mason Rudolph. Despite three months to reflect and video evidence, Tomlin still refuses to acknowledge that Rudolph deserves any blame for the incident. The only person who has accepted any blame to this point, which is obviously warranted, is Myles Garrett.

The closest Tomlin could come to acknowledging wrongdoing was noting, "Obviously, Mason was an active participant." That was after starting his response when he was asked if Rudolph had any culpability by saying, "I struggle with that. He got fined $50,000 for essentially getting beat up. You know, his reputation has been tarnished because of the allegations, none of which was founded. He was a quarterback in losing circumstances at the end of a football game." 

Tomlin is effectively saying despite grabbing at Garrett's helmet and face, then kicking him in the groin and chasing after him when Garrett was already restrained by one of his linemen, which all happened before Garrett swung the helmet, did not rise to the level of a $50,000 fine. And while Tomlin is welcome to put his own reputation on the line for an incident that will likely never been provable one way or the other, he is nevertheless a partisan actor in this discussion. 

None of this is to suggest he's wrong. It's unknowable. He's taking the word of his players. It simply points out the fact he isn't impartial on this matter and his reputation within the league and in general doesn't change that reality. He's also taking advantage of the fact the Browns can't produce someone of similar stature or even the same position. Freddie Kitchens is working as a member of the New York Giants coaching staff. So it's Garrett's word against Tomlin, at least in the public sphere currently.

Former Browns general manager John Dorsey did respond to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal to confirm that Garrett did tell the organization immediately that Garrett said Rudolph used a racial slur the night of the game. Back in December, teammate Larry Ogunjobi said Garrett told him immediately after the game as well, which flies in the face of Tomlin's assertion that no one on the field or the organization of the Browns was told about Garrett's accusation.

Despite three months of time passing, almost nothing has changed. Garrett insists it happened. Rudolph insists it didn't. Rudolph's lawyer is threatening legal action and Mike Tomlin insists the Steelers did nothing wrong. The Browns are behind Garrett. The Steelers are behind Rudolph.

Comments (1)

I lose a lot of respect for Tomlin on this. It doesn't bother me that he is supporting his guys within his locker room, it's his insistence on painting his team as victims.

The Browns outplayed the Steelers and were the far more physical team that night, the Steelers eventually resorted to starting fights and Myles Garrett lost his cool. It seems like that gets completely ignored in lieu of whichever side you're on.