As much as Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns coaches want to downplay it, the Mason Rudolph–Myles Garrett fallout from their fight last year still lingers as the 2020 NFL season heads into Week 17.
Rudolph will start for the Steelers in place of Ben Roethlisberger while the Browns named Garrett a captain for the game.
Cleveland needs a win to secure a playoff berth for the first time in 18 years. With the 2019 incident still in the back of everyone’s mind, Rudolph said he hasn’t spoken to Garrett since.
“He has not reached out to me in any capacity,” Rudolph told reporters Friday, via the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “I’m happy to hear Myles out. If he wants to approach me, if he wants to talk, like I said, he’s a great player. They’re playing well as a defense.”
Garrett was suspended for the final six games of the 2019 season and may have cost himself a Defensive Player of the Year award in the process. He accused Rudolph of hurling a racial slur at him, which allegedly caused him to explode. The NFL said an investigation couldn’t substantiate the claim.
Garrett told reporters he doesn’t anticipate giving Rudolph any kind of special treatment.
“He’ll get hit just like everybody else. I’m not going to put a pillow underneath his head before I take him to the ground. But I’m not going to do anything extra. It’s just a game. It’s a Steelers game. It’s a divisional game. It’s an important game. But going against him, it changes nothing for me,” he said.
“And, just like with any other player or any other quarterback, if he reaches out his hand for me to help him up, I’m going to do it. And if I see him and he’s on the ground, it doesn’t change my mindset at all with him back there.”
Garrett said in September he hoped to clear the air with Rudolph as the incident nearly made him quit football altogether.