In his unsuccessful appeal of an indefinite suspension Wednesday, Myles Garrett accused Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph of hurling a racial slur at him before they began brawling on Thursday Night Football, sources told ESPN's Josina Anderson and Adam Schefter.
However, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Thursday that the league looked into Garrett's allegations "and found no such evidence," according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
"Mason vehemently denies the report of being accused of using a racial slur during the incident Thursday night in Cleveland," Steelers spokesperson Burt Lauten 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 and Garrett started fighting after the former took exception to what he felt was a late hit in the dying seconds of the game. The brawl quickly escalated and resulted in Garrett ripping Rudolph's helmet off and bashing him over the head with it.
Rudolph's attorney slammed the allegation immediately after it was publicized:
According to ESPN, in his appeal, Myles Garrett falsely asserted that Mason Rudolph uttered a racial slur toward him, prior to swinging a helmet at Mason's uncovered head, in a desperate attempt to mitigate his suspension. This is a lie. 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 was one of three players suspended following the melee. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was banned for two games for throwing punches at Garrett and kicking him in the head, while Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was barred for one contest for shoving Rudolph from behind.
Garrett presented the allegation to appeals officer James Thrash, who reportedly remained stoic while taking detailed notes.
As part of his appeal, Garrett also reportedly cited the shorter suspension given to former Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith in 2013. Smith sat out two preseason games and one regular-season matchup for swinging his helmet at then-Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito.