The Cleveland Browns are rallying around defensive lineman Myles Garrett, while the Pittsburgh Steelers are attempting to minimize the retribution storyline from the 2019 brawl between the teams that saw Garrett suspended for the remainder of the season after striking Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph with his helmet.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said on Tuesday that his team will not be focused on the “reality TV storyline” of earning retribution against Garrett, who was still suspended when the teams met for a second time last season.
The Browns have largely defended Garrett’s actions after he said he was incited by Rudolph using a racial slur. Browns running back Kareem Hunt said on Wednesday that the situation will be on their minds.
“Myles is a great person and a great player and a great teammate and you just learn a lot going through situations like that,” Hunt said. “You’ve got to come ready and just forget about all that stuff and do whatever you can. This one, this is for Myles and for Cleveland Browns fans, this one’s for a lot of things.”
But Hunt also said that he doesn’t expect another round of violence on Sunday.
“It takes a lot to get Myles out of his element,” Hunt said. “Myles is a great person. No doubt in my mind that he’ll keep those emotions in check, just go out there and play football.”
Tomlin emphasized the importance of this year’s game between the teams, who sit at 4-0 and 4-1, respectively, with the Steelers a half-game ahead of the Browns in the AFC North standings.
But Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the most experienced player on either side of the rivalry, said that records aren’t that important when it comes to the feud between the teams.
“It truly doesn’t matter when we play AFC North football,” Roethlisberger said. “That’s why we say you throw records out the window because everybody is vying for that top spot. Everybody is going to give the other team their absolute best. It doesn’t matter what the record is. It doesn’t matter what the season record is, what the past record is. It’s really about trying to win the division.”