"He called me the N-word," Garrett told Outside the Lines' Mina Kimes during an interview that debuted Thursday night on SportsCenter. "He called me a 'stupid N-word.'"
The NFL suspended Garrett indefinitely for ripping Rudolph's helmet off and hitting him in the head with it during the Browns' 21-7 win on Nov. 14. The incident ended up costing Garrett the final six games of the regular season and roughly $1.2 million in pay, plus a fine of $45,623.
Garrett was reinstated by the league Wednesday.
The star defensive player first asserted during his appeals hearing for the suspension that Rudolph incited him with a racial slur, ESPN previously reported. Garrett later said he never intended for the accusation to become public but added: "I know what I heard."
On Thursday, Garrett told Kimes that he didn't want the allegation to become public "because I didn't want to try to use it as justification for my actions, 'cause there's nothing to justify. Like there's, there's nothing that I can say or do to justify what I did on that day. ... [But] I know what I heard."
An NFL spokesman said at the time that the league "found no such evidence" that Rudolph used the slur, and the suspension was upheld.
Rudolph has called the allegation "totally untrue."
"I couldn't believe it," the quarterback said Nov. 24. "I couldn't believe he would go that route after the fact."
In Thursday's interview, Garrett recounted a different version of events and blamed Rudolph for starting the fight that led to the discipline of 33 players and fines amounting to $732,422.
"I don't say the N-word, whether it's with 'a' [or] 'er.' To me, personally, [it] just shouldn't be said, whether it's by family, friends, anyone," Garrett said. "I don't want to use it because I don't want [people to] find that appropriate around me for anyone to use.
"When he said it, it kind of sparked something, but I still tried to let it go and still walk away. But once he came back, it kind of reignited the situation. And not only have you escalated things past what they needed to be with such little time in the game left, now you're trying to reengage and start a fight again. It's definitely not entirely his fault; it's definitely both parties doing something that we shouldn't have been doing."
The Steelers had run a final play with eight seconds left on the clock. Rudolph initially tussled with Garrett on the ground, then charged at him after Garrett forcibly removed Rudolph's helmet. At that point, Garrett hit Rudolph over the head with it.
The league fined the Browns and Steelers $250,000 each. Without Garrett, Cleveland's defense cratered down the stretch en route to a 6-10 finish.
Reached for comment, the Steelers on Thursday deferred to their November statement, which read in part, "Mason vehemently denies the report of being accused of using a racial slur during the incident."
Rudolph's agent and attorney, Tim Younger, was unavailable for comment Thursday.
"I know something was said," Garrett told Kimes. "Now whether the NFL wants to acknowledge it, that's up to them. But I don't want to make it a racial thing, honestly. It's over with for me. And I'm pretty sure it's over with for Mason. So we just wanna move past and keep on playing football."
ESPN's Brooke Pryor contributed to this report.