Steelers’ Kenny Pickett denies report he ‘refused’ to be backup, says rumor was ‘attacking my character’

Kenny Pickett was inactive for a fourth-straight game despite being medically cleared to return this past weekend.

Instead, the Pittsburgh Steelers went with Mason Rudolph, who had taken over for Mitch Trubisky the week prior.

The decision to sit Pickett wound up working out just fine as the Steelers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 30-23 win over the Seahawks, dampening Seattle’s odds in the process.

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Kenny Pickett throws football

Kenny Pickett of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass during the second quarter against the Arizona Cardinals, Dec. 3, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

However, when Pickett was ruled inactive, a report swirled online that Pickett had actually “refused” to be the backup to Rudolph, thus leading to him being inactive.

Pickett caught wind of that report and squashed it immediately.

“I saw reports out there that I felt like were attacking my character and how I am as a person, not even getting into the player standpoint of it,” Pickett told reporters Monday morning

Pickett then gave reporters a look behind the curtain that went into the quarterback decision for this past weekend.

“There was no talk of me being a backup quarterback this week in terms of being a two,” Pickett said. “If I was healthy enough to play and the trainers and coaches felt like I would look good enough to play, I was going to start and play. If they believed I was not, which they believed I was not, I was not going to dress and suit up for the game.”

Pickett then took a shot at Mark Madden, the radio host who made that initial report.

Kenny Pickett at a press conference

When Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett was ruled inactive, a report swirled online that Pickett had actually “refused” to be the backup. (AP Photo/Don Wright/File)

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“It’s kind of crazy what people will write and put out there to try to prove their point or help their standpoint or their careers in what you guys do; disappointed to see that without any proof or basis of it.”

Head coach Mike Tomlin said that he had not gotten “clarity” on Pickett until “later in the week.”

“And it was about the distribution of reps and who was best prepared and positioned to help us win,” Tomlin said Monday. “And so that’s the direction we went with.”

Despite that, though, Tomlin has tabbed Rudolph as the starter for Week 18 over Pickett.

“He’s done a good job, and we’ve done a good job, in the most recent two weeks. We’ve taken care of the ball, he’s taking care of the ball. We score points at a rate in which he hadn’t done to this point this year. And with the urgency of the moment, and because of those reasons, we’re going to leave the ball in [Rudolph’s] hands.”

Kenny Pickett looks on field

Kenny Pickett of the Pittsburgh Steelers is shown during the game against the Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Nov. 19, 2023. (Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

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The Steelers need to beat the Baltimore Ravens – and either the Buffalo Bills to lose to the Miami Dolphins or the Jacksonville Jaguars to lose to the Tennessee Titans – in order to make the playoffs (or an Indianapolis Colts-Houston Texans tie).

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