The National Football League on Thursday upheld its indefinite suspension of Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett over a violent skirmish on the field with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph last week.
Garrett reportedly accused Rudolph of inciting the conflict by using a racial slur during their on-field confrontation Nov. 14, which Rudolph's agent said was "a lie."
According to ESPN, Garrett told NFL officials at his appeals hearing that Rudolph used the slur during a brief exchange that intensified when Garrett used a helmet to attack Rudolph.
After the incident, three players were suspended without pay. Browns defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi has to sit out one game, and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was suspended for three games and fined $35,096, which was reduced Thursday to a two-game suspension after an appeal. Garrett received a "commissioner's discipline" punishment — suspended indefinitely without pay.
Garrett's suspension requires him to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before he can be reinstated to play, NFL spokesman Michael Signora said on Twitter.
Rudolph's attorney, Timothy M. Younger of Younger & Associates, called the allegations false in a statement released on his Twitter account Thursday.
In the statement, Younger said Garrett "falsely asserted that Mason Rudolph uttered a racial slur toward him, prior to swinging a helmet at Mason's uncovered head, in a desperate attempt to mitigate his suspension." He called it "a lie" that was never asserted after the game, before the hearing or in the apology issued by the Browns.
"The malicious use of this wild and unfounded allegation is an assault on Mason's integrity which is far worse than the physical assault witnessed on Thursday. This is reckless and shameful. We will have no further comment," he said.
Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten also defended Rudolph, saying he "vehemently denies" using a racial slur during the game and won't discuss it any further.
Garrett's agent James Cook wasn't immediately available for comment.
According to Sports Illustrated, Garrett also argued against the length of his suspension by referencing a similar incident in 2013 when Houston Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith removed Miami Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito's helmet, swinging the protective headgear at Incognito. Smith was suspended for four games.
Garrett's appeal was heard by former NFL wide receiver James Thrash, an appeals officer jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association helping to oversee on-field player disciplinary issues.