PITTSBURGH — Maurkice Pouncey says he doesn’t have any regrets about his role in the fight between Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and Browns defensive end Myles Garrett three weeks ago in Cleveland.
Pouncey, who served a two-game suspension, was gregarious and lighthearted Wednesday while speaking publicly for the first time since the brawl.
“The NFL had to make a statement, and rightfully so,” the Steelers center said of league-imposed discipline that followed the altercation. “At the end of the day, the fight didn’t look good, but the fight was worth it.”
Pouncey was initially suspended three games and fined $35,096 for the fight. He ran toward the skirmish as Garrett swung Rudolph’s helmet at the quarterback, hitting him in the head. Pouncey punched and kicked Garrett.
Pouncey won his appeal after telling the NFL that he stopped fighting when the brawl ended. His punishment was reduced by a game.
“As soon as the brawl stopped, I stopped,” Pouncey said. “They didn’t have to stop me. I wasn’t chasing down the players. It was just one guy.”
Despite the discipline, the 10-year veteran said he didn’t regret his actions from that night.
“No regrets,” Pouncey said. “I’ve moved on now, man. Everyone had to pay their fines. Everyone had to do their due diligence. The money was worth it, trust me.”
Pouncey also refuted Garrett’s allegation that Rudolph used a racial slur.
“Come on man, that’s not true at all,” Pouncey said. “Honestly, you guys know Mason. You guys have been around him a long time. It’s not his first time. Trust me, if he was racist, it would’ve got exposed.”
Pouncey spent his two-week suspension working out in gyms around Pittsburgh. Sunday morning, he got up and did a cardio workout to fill the void of not playing. He said he was greeted frequently at local gyms by fans holding up fists and telling him they would’ve gotten in another punch or kick.
“It was funny just to hear from people,” he said. “Everywhere I go, people are like this, putting the fist up.”
Pouncey also received strong support from his own locker room. Not only did they wear “Free Pouncey” sweatshirts, but team captain Cam Heyward brought a game ball to Pouncey at his house after Sunday’s victory in a rematch with the Browns.
“I never got a game ball sitting at the house,” Pouncey said. “It was pretty cool.”
The center picked up some extra custom sweatshirts ordered by Ramon Foster. He’s also sending one to his twin, Chargers center Mike Pouncey.
“I got one for my brother, too. Just in case he gets locked up,” Pouncey said with a laugh.
Refreshed after the two-week break, Pouncey is ready to return to practice ahead of a crucial stretch that could very well end with a playoff berth for the 7-5 Steelers.
“I feel like this is the beginning of the year,” Pouncey said. “I’ve got a lot of energy. We’re going to see how things turn out today at practice. I know all the guys are excited. We’ve just got to stay humbled and focused.”