Cameron Heyward does not believe Myles Garrett.
“We’ve got to get past this brawl,” Heyward said. “There were mistakes made by both people, but I don’t think it ever got to a racial slur, personally. It was a heated moment. A guy made a mistake and we’re dealing with the consequences, but we’re not going to make up stuff.
“You’re trying to label a kid. He was distracted even going into practice, thinking about this.”
Garrett was suspended indefinitely by the NFL, a ruling which was upheld Thursday.
At no point did anyone with the Browns organization, including Garrett, mention a racial slur as a possible motive behind Garrett’s actions.
“I thought it would’ve been brought up right after,” Heyward said. “There would’ve been multiple guys speaking up about it. I don’t condone racial slurs, ever. Mason dealing with that, he’s going to be labeled for it. That’s just not right. I just don’t appreciate that.
“It’s very serious. We have a brotherhood in this league and we all respect this league. To use that as your appeal, and think that is okay, one action doesn’t deserve another. I know Mason didn’t say it. He came to me and told me that he didn’t say it.”
Heyward said that he and Rudolph talked about the allegations, and Rudolph outright denied saying anything racially motivated at any point. Rudolph’s agent also released a statement, calling the accusation ‘malicious’ and ‘unfounded,’ while deeming it an ‘assault on (Rudolph’s) integrity.'
Rudolph was not made available to speak after the Steelers practiced in advance of Sunday’s game in Cincinnati.
“For Mason, I know he’s not going to talk about it because he’s being villainized by it, but he said ‘I’m going to be labeled as that,’” Heyward said. “I just don’t think that’s right. That’s my teammate and I’m going to fight for him and I’m going to do what’s best for him. That kid made a bad mistake, but he never crossed the line and talked about racial slur.”
Heyward maintains that he and Rudolph’s teammates, like Maurkice Pouncey -- who had his suspension for his role in the incident reduced to two games -- and David DeCastro, who were in the middle of the fight, did not hear any racial slur.
“I think we’ve just got to own up to our mistakes, as men, and move the hell on,” Heyward said. “For that to be a part of the appeal is stupid to me. That doesn’t get you out of what you did. We’ve got to move forward and he’s got to own up to his actions.”