Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph shared a prepared statement with the media on Wednesday regarding his role and responsibility for the brawl that closed out the Steelers’ loss to AFC North rival Cleveland Browns last Thursday night.
Rudolph said after the game it was “cowardly” and “pretty bush league” for Browns defensive end Myles Garrett to hit Rudolph in the head with his own helmet. In his first comments since last Thursday night postgame, he said he holds no ill will toward Garrett and is also at fault for not keeping his composure.
Rudolph took exception to way he was hit
The terrifying fight erupted when Garrett took Rudolph to the ground after the QB threw the ball in the waning seconds of a 21-7 game. Rudolph began grabbing at Garrett’s helmet, and in return Garrett ripped off Rudolph’s and hit him with it over the head.
Rudolph explained why he did that in the first place and that it “fell short of that expectation” that goes with being in the Steelers organization.
Rudolph’s prepared statement in full:
“To say the least, it was an unfortunate situation for everyone involved. I consider it a privilege, not a right, to be in the NFL. To be part of a first-class organization representing the Rooney family and the Pittsburgh Steelers. And I fell short of that expectation last Thursday night. In retrospect, I put Maurkice Pouncey, probably one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, in a tough spot as well as my teammates.
“The way I saw it, on the final play of the game, with the game in hand the way it was, it had been — we had already lost two of our players to targeting penalties in the game. As I released the ball, I took a late shot [and] did not agree with the way he then took me down to the ground. My natural reaction was to get him off from on top of me. And again, I should have done a better job handling that situation.
“I have no ill will toward Myles Garrett. Great respect for his ability as a player. I know if Myles could go back, he would handle this situation differently.
“For my involvement last week, there’s no acceptable excuse. The bottom line is I should have done a better job keeping my composure in that situation. And it falls short of what I believe it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and member of the NFL.”
Rudolph reiterated later while answering a question that he didn’t like how he was taken down late on what was essentially the final play of the game. There was eight seconds on the clock and Pittsburgh trailed by two touchdowns. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson, who was bleeding out of his ear after a helmet-to-helmet hit that got Damarious Randall ejected, had both entered concussion protocol in the game.
Rudolph took a scary hit that knocked him unconscious earlier this season. When asked if he rewatched it and realized how worse it could have been, he 24-year-old said "I was probably fortunate on the way it went down."
Is Rudolph at fault for starting fight?
While Rudolph spoke to the media in Pittsburgh, Garrett was in New York at an appeals hearing for his indefinite suspension that runs at least through this season. Larry Ogunjobi was also suspended for the Browns and Rudolph’s center, Maurkice Pouncey, was suspended three games for kicking Garrett while he was pinned to the ground after the fight.
Each franchise was fined $250,000 and more fines are reportedly coming.
Omitted from that initial punishment list, much to the anger of many, was Rudolph. The quarterback took heat for pulling on Garrett’s helmet and possibly initiating the fight. Browns defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said Sunday that Rudolph “can’t antagonize a fight and then claim bullying” and Garrett was simply protecting himself.
Adding to the fuel is that these teams meet again on Dec. 1 in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are moving on to Cincinnati, as Rudolph told reporters.
Mike Tomlin addressed it for the first time Tuesday, saying he’s not sure his team “did anything to make [the fight] happen in the first place.”
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