N.F.L. appeals officers on Thursday upheld the indefinite suspension for Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett for hitting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with a helmet during a game last week.
The appeals officers also reduced a related suspension to two games from three for Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, who kicked and punched Garrett. Pouncey’s $35,096 fine was upheld.
Both players had appealed their penalties, which were levied after a brawl between the two teams during a Nov. 14 game. Garrett, 23, the first overall pick in the 2017 draft, was suspended after he and Rudolph grappled at the end of the matchup. Garrett ripped off Rudolph’s helmet and swung it wildly, hitting Rudolph in the head.
During his appeal hearing on Wednesday at N.F.L. headquarters, Garrett, who is black, accused Rudolph, who is white, of calling him a racial slur during their altercation, according to ESPN.
N.F.L. spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league looked into the allegation and found no such evidence.
Rudolph immediately pushed back at the allegation through representatives.
“Mason vehemently denies the report of being accused of using a racial slur during the incident Thursday night in Cleveland,” Burt Lauten, a Steelers spokesman, said in a statement. “He will not discuss this accusation any further, and his focus remains on preparation for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.”
Rudolph’s agent, Timothy M. Younger, went further in a post to his law firm’s Twitter account, calling Garrett’s accusation “a lie” and “reckless and shameful.”
“This false allegation was never asserted by Garrett in the aftermath of the game, never suggested prior to the hearing, and conspicuously absent in the apology published by the Browns and adopted by Garrett,” Younger wrote.
On Wednesday, Rudolph delivered to the media prepared remarks about the altercation. “I should’ve done a better job keeping my composure in that situation, “ he said.
Garrett’s agent, Bus Cook, did not immediately return requests for comments. The N.F.L. Players Association has not returned a call for comment.
Rudolph has not been fined or suspended for his role in the fight, though additional penalties for the involved parties could still be announced. Rudolph’s agent did not rule out taking legal action against Garrett.
The Browns face the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Dec. 1.