(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Mason Rudolph will start at quarterback for the Steelers on Sunday and he'll be doing it in Cleveland, the same site where he was viciously attacked by Browns' defensive end Myles Garrett last year.
Near the end of the Steelers-Browns game on Nov. 14, 2019, following a scuffle, Garrett ripped Rudolph's helmet off and hit him over the head with it.
Garrett was suspended for the rest of the season for his attack on Rudolph and would almost a week later claim that he was called a racial slur by Rudolph, which caused him to act the way he did. The NFL investigated Garrett's allegation against Rudolph and they found no evidence to his claim. Rudolph vehemently denied the allegation. It was an ugly scene on the shores of Lake Erie on that Thursday night in November, and it affected Rudolph not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, Rudolph said on Friday that Garrett hasn't reached out to him in any capacity but says he has a lot of respect for him and the team.
"This game is too big to worry about anything external that happened years ago," Rudolph said.
The incident that occurred in Week 11 last year in Cleveland has been well documented, and it's something that both Rudolph and Garrett want to put behind them. Rudolph said he’s willing to hear Garrett out if the defensive end would like to talk. Garrett said in September that he's put the incident behind him and has no hard feelings for Rudolph.
"I just don't want any grudges, I don't have any grudge against Rudolph," Garrett said via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. "I don't have any ill intent against him. It's not like I'd have anything against him if I saw him in public or in a game and we were suited up. I'd just play him like I play anybody else.”
Rudolph knows that Garrett will present a challenge for the offense on Sunday and they'll have to be on their best game to make sure he doesn't create havoc.
"He's a menace in the backfield. He's very disruptive. ... We obviously are very aware of that and we treat him with respect," Rudolph said of Garrett.
Rudolph wants to redeem himself from last year's brawl in Cleveland, which in the game itself, he did not perform well, throwing four interceptions.
"There are a couple of ways you can go about it," Roethlisberger said on how Rudolph can deal with this game. "You can put it behind you and treat it like a typical quarterback that has to have a short memory. You just go out there and whatever happened last year, there is going to be a lot of hoopla about it, just put it out of your mind and go focus on this year, this game, this team.
"Or you can go take it as motivation that you want to go out and put it on them and win this football game. It's really each man has to decide how he wants to approach it. I know from talking to Mason and knowing Mason he wants to go out and win this football game. He is going to do everything he can for this team. This is an awesome opportunity for him to get out and show what he can do."
Rudolph will make his ninth career start on Sunday against the Browns. As a starter, Rudolph is 5-3 and had a 13-9 touchdown-interception ratio last year. The third-year quarterback out of Oklahoma State will look to capitalize on his only starting opportunity this year.
"I think I'm just motivated that I have this opportunity," Rudolph said on Friday via Mike Prisuta of Steelers.com. "All the guys that maybe have an increased role this week, Coach (Mike) Tomlin has talked about engineering victory. When you don't have your leader on offense, being Ben (Roethlisberger), our Hall of Fame quarterback, as well as some other players it's important, we know we have to bring the energy as a team.
"It's very motivating in and of itself, 'Hey, I have a chance to play this week,' as well as some other guys."