Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph strongly denied on Saturday the continued assertion by Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett’s that Rudolph uttered a racial slur before Garrett assaulted him with his own helmet in an altercation in the waning moments of the teams’ game at Cleveland on Nov. 14, 2019.
Garrett, who was reinstated by the NFL earlier this week, went on ESPN’s Outside the Lines and accused Rudolph of using a racial slur for a second time.
“He called me the N-word,” Garrett said to ESPN’s Mina Kimes. “He called me a ‘stupid N-word.’”
Saturday, Rudolph responded, denying the allegation.
“1000% False,” Rudolph wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning. “Bold-Faced Lie. I did not, have not, and would not utter a racial-slur. This is a disgusting and reckless attempt to assassinate my character.”
I did not, have not, and would not utter a racial-slur.
This is a disgusting and reckless attempt to assassinate my character. https://t.co/mZcEcC0tCl
— Mason Rudolph (@Rudolph2Mason) February 15, 2020
Rudolph’s denial came moments after an equally strongly worded rebuttal from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
Rudolph’s agent, Timothy Younger of Younger & Associates, called the claim “ludicrous” and threatened legal action against Garrett.
— Younger & Associates/QB Limited (@YoungerAssoc) February 15, 2020
While Garrett’s reinstatement and the upholding of Rudolph’s $50,000 fine for his part in the incident have ended the drama from the league’s perspective, it seems the battle of he-said, he-said is going to continue to play out throughout the offseason.
Poll: What Was Biggest Issue with Steelers Running Game in 2020?
The Steelers finished dead last in the NFL in rushing in 2020 and general manager Kevin Colbert has seen it as a top offseason priority to rectify that standing going into 2021.
The Steelers have already made a change in coaching, with Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm taking over as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.
There will also be substantive changes to the personnel, as starting center Maurkice Pouncey has retired and starting running back James Conner, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, left guard Matt Feiler and right tackle Zach Banner are pending free agents.
“You can’t say the runners weren’t good enough or the quarterbacks weren’t good enough or the line wasn’t good enough,” Colbert said in speaking with the media last week. “To put out the kind of running game we did, no one was good enough. And again, that is a collective effort. … We need to finish (seasons). And I think having a strong running game helps teams finish in that time of year.”
With that being said, Steelers fans, which area of the running game do you think was the biggest issue in 2020?
NFL Insider John Clayton: Steelers Out of Running for J.J. Watt
One of the league’s most prominent insiders believes the Steelers are out of the running for free agent defensive end J.J. Watt.
Joining The PM Team on 93.7 The Fan on Wednesday, NFL insider John Clayton said Watt will not be joining his brothers T.J. and Derek in Pittsburgh.
Clayton sees the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills as the favorites to land Watt’s services.
For a potential dark horse, Clayton says the Las Vegas Raiders as an outside-the-box candidate to sign the veteran pass rusher.
.@JohnClaytonNFL says JJ Watt won't be coming to Pittsburgh. Tennessee, Green Bay, and Buffalo are the 3 teams. Raiders as a dark horse.— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) February 24, 2021
Watt leaves Houston as one of the greatest players in franchise history. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, named First-Team All-Pro on five occasions and earned three NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards.
A future Hall of Famer, Watt is the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (101), tackles-for-loss (172) and forced fumbles (25).
Watt recorded 52 total tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, two forced fumbles and returned an interception for a touchdown in 2020.
Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster Says He Wants to Retire in Pittsburgh
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster reiterated that he wants to finish his career in Pittsburgh, even though that possibility seems remote.
Smith-Schuster, speaking with TMZ Sports in Los Angeles on Wednesday, that he’s not looking for a reason to return to the West Coast, and wants to remain with the Steelers.
“At the end of the day, I want to have my legacy in Pittsburgh and retire there,” he said. “I don’t want to leave. … I’m Pittsburgh for life.”
Smith-Schuster also said that he still feels that Ben Roethlisberger has enough in the tank to the take the team to a championship and that he feels he has a good relationship with the Steelers’ quarterback.
Roethlisberger’s situation remains up in the air as he and the team attempt to come to terms on a re-negotiated or extended contract to ameliorate some of his $41 million cap hit for the 2021 season.
Roethlisberger said he would like Smith-Schuster to return, but the 24-year-old free agent will likely be able to command a salary in the $15 million per year range, which seems to be out of the price range of the Steelers, who remain well over the salary cap with three weeks to go before the start of the new league year.