Toward that end, he said he’d like to sit and talk with the Steelers quarterback, as awkward as that conversation might be.
Garrett missed the last six games of last season after he was suspended for clocking Rudolph in the head with his own helmet. Garrett claimed the action was sparked by Rudolph calling him a racial slur, which Rudolph has vehemently denied. The NFL has investigated, and said there was no evidence of a slur, and Rudolph’s lawyer has threatened a lawsuit.
“If it were to happen, I’d be fine with it,” Garrett told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Not just fine, but I wouldn’t mind it and I’d be happy to make it happen, if there were a way. I’m not sure how I’d go about that, how I’d broach that. I’m not even sure if he’d want to do that but I wouldn’t have a problem sitting down with him and just not talking about the incident, just talking man-to-man, how we move forward, and just being better men and football players and not letting something like that happen again. Whether we can do that, I’m not sure, but I’d be willing to extend the olive branch and make that happen.”
Of course, the disparate versions of the story each of them tell about the night of Nov. 14 might make it hard to get them into the same room, much less to a point of reconciliation.
“It’d be like other instances where people agree to disagree,” Garrett said. “Just what I heard, just what you said you said and that’s what it is. If you say you didn’t say that, that’s okay, but that’s what I heard. It is what it is at the end of the day. We’re men and it shouldn’t be one situation that keeps you from respecting each other because you can’t look past that. If he wants to hold onto it, I’m not going to have any problems with him if he still has a problem with me.
“I’m just going to keep on playing the game and keep on doing my thing because I have a team and a defense that I still need to lead and I still need to perform for, so whatever we decided to do or make of this, it is what it is.”
Garrett said that he thought such a meeting could serve a greater good, but that he didn’t want any “grudges” to linger.
“And now our fates are intertwined forever, and so I don’t think we should leave it off like that, is my opinion,” Garrett said. “I feel like we should clear the air so there’s no problems and there’s no bad blood. Between our teams and our fans, the rivalry I feel like will live off of it, but between the players, I feel like it should always be competitive but never go over the line.”
The Browns obviously believe Garrett’s changed-man narrative, rewarding him with a five-year, $125 million contract extension this offseason. Whether Rudolph shares their view, or has any interest in sitting with Garrett, remains to be seen.