Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin joined Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take Monday morning to defend quarterback Mason Rudolph amid allegations that he directed a racial slur at Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.
“I took offense to it, to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin said of Garrett’s renewed allegations made on Outside the Lines last week. “I thought it was appropriate that Mason is properly defended.”
Mike Tomlin reacts to the allegations made against Mason Rudolph. pic.twitter.com/H2lkcu4YQY
— First Take (@FirstTake) February 17, 2020
Tomlin, who originally voiced his support for Rudolph in a statement released by the team Saturday, reiterated his point that no one on the field or from the Browns organization corroborated Garrett’s claim to him.
“I got a lot of personal relationships within that organization, over there in Cleveland,” Tomlin said. “At no point did anyone within that organization come forward and say, ‘Mike, heads up, we got a situation here’ or something of that nature that you would expect comes with those type of allegations.”
He also responded to Garrett’s suggestion that the Steelers and NFL participated in a cover up of in-game audio that would have confirmed his accusations.
“Anybody that knows this organization knows what it stands for, understands how the Rooney family gets down from a business standpoint, that’s laughable,” Tomlin said. “We would not participate in the covering up of such issues and we would obviously do what was appropriate in terms of dealing with those circumstances.”
Lastly, the Steelers head coach criticized ESPN for their coverage of the initial interview and subsequent discussion panel, saying it was unfair how they framed Rudolph and failed to show both sides of the situation.
“We as an organization fully support Mason Rudolph and to be quite honest, we were hacked off at what we saw this weekend,” Tomlin said. “Not specifically from Myles Garrett, he’s been in the lane that he’s in but what was displayed by ESPN in that panel. The way that the situation was presented, I don’t think was fair to Mason Rudolph and that’s why I’m here.”
Tomlin, who is entering his 14th season as the team’s head coach, rarely speaks to the media during the off-season, so it is safe to assume that he and the Steelers organization wanted to squash the situation once and for all.