Monday, August 8, 2022

Ex-Browns defenseman clarifies infamous brawl with Steelers QB

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Former Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi said he cleaned the air with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph over his role in the infamous 2019 brawl between rivals AFC North.

Ogunjobi was handed a one-game suspension for his role in the fight that saw Browns star defensive end Myles Garrett swing Rudolph’s own helmet at him in the dying moments of a football game Thursday night. Ogunjobi was banned from the game in addition to a $10,000 fine for pushing Rudolph to the ground.

Ogunjobi signed with the Steelers that offseason and says he spoke to Rudolph about the incident.

“It’s just water under the bridge,” Ogunjobi said on Tuesday before the training camp. “It’s been years. No hard feelings. I don’t think he has any hard feelings. It’s just men in a sport. Sometimes we act out of emotions and I defended my teammate. He did his thing.

“I feel like it is what it is. He got in touch, we spoke to each other. It was over the day it happened. For me, at least, the only way I can move forward is forward.”

The Steelers are the third AFC North squad Ogunjobi has played for, having featured for the Bengals last season. He only had good things to say about Rudolph.

“There is no need to hold grudges,” Ogunjobi said. “We play a very emotional sport. It’s emotionally driven, and sometimes you act out of emotion. Being able to shake hands, talk to each other and say, “I’m glad you’re here; I look forward to working with you.’ That speaks volumes about who he is.”

The Browns will see Ogunjobi and the Steelers in Week 3 earlier in the year.

Garrett was hit with an indefinite suspension after the helmet swing and missed the final six weeks of the season. He also accused Rudolph of hurling a racial slur in his direction and sparking the fight, though the NFL found no evidence of this.

However, Garrett was able to turn things around in a big way with his charitable work off the field and his outstanding, focused play. He’s coming off a year in which he set the Browns’ one-season sack record at 16 and earned a five-year extension worth $125 million last season.

Garrett hasn’t said much about the Rudolph incident since, but called it a minor bump in the road after he signed his massive deal.

“My life is much bigger than a moment” Garrett to reporters “Me, the Browns and my teammates will look past this and continue to be successful. That will just be a small bump on the way.”

Part of the reason Garrett was able to change the narrative is because of his strong game. He recently joined and is the exclusive 99 club in Madden installed as a favorite To be named Defensive Player of the Year. Garrett goes into the season at +700, ahead of Steelers star TJ Watt (+800) and Rams DT (+800).

“I feel like every year I’m trying to do something a little bit different, bring a little bit of a new twist to my game and this year is no different, I’m trying to just be a little bit better,” he said Garrett youth football camp in June.

And the Browns still believe Garrett has room to grow, which defense coordinator Joe Woods laid out during mandatory minicamp.

“Myles is very talented,” Woods said. “It’s more about consistency for him, I think, looking back at some of the games over the last year that he left out there. For me, what I’m talking about with Myles is just perfecting the defense, not missing an opportunity, and playing as hard as possible on every snap, because when Myles does that, I think he’s unblockable.”

The Browns need a big year from Garrett as they look to return to the playoffs after a disappointing 8-9 season a year ago.

“Myles is very talented,” Woods said. “It’s more about consistency for him, I think, looking back at some of the games over the last year that he left out there. For me, what I’m talking about with Myles is just perfecting the defense, not missing an opportunity, and playing as hard as possible on every snap, because when Myles does that, I think he’s unblockable.”



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