Weighing In On the Fallout From The Rudolph-Garrett Incident

By Adam McCoy

When I first started writing for SteelerNation.com, I never thought I’d find myself diving into the issues we’re about to, but so it goes in the world of the NFL in 2019.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week (in which case you may be better off), you have heard something of the incident that went down at the end of an ugly Thursday Night Football game between Cleveland Browns defensive lineman, Myles Garrett and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Mason Rudolph. At this point, the event has transcended the world of football to be featured on about every news outlet from coast to coast, and even found itself parodied on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

All players to be suspended had their appeals this week, apologies had been issued, and we figured this would be the last we’d hear of it until December 1st when the Browns visit Heinz Field.

That was until Myles Garrett came out during his appeal to say Mason Rudolph uttered a “racial slur” during the whole debacle.

Now that is a massive accusation to make against someone, an accusation that regardless of the weight it holds can tarnish someone’s reputation for life.

With that being said, there are a few things that make this suddenly new “evidence” very troubling from both perspectives. Let’s look at it from Myles Garrett’s point of view first.

Let’s say for a second Mason Rudolph absolutely did use a racial slur during that interaction. That would be an absolutely unacceptable thing to do, an action that has no place today in the NFL, or anywhere for that matter. With the severity, ignorance, and hate these kinds of “slurs” carry, Garrett being frustrated over that would make all the sense in the world.

What doesn’t make sense is why now? If you believed that he said that, wouldn’t you tell reporters immediately?  Even if not then, why not in the official statement or apology? There were 20 other players on that field plus more that joined after things got heated. No one else heard a thing. Browns players have come out to say they don’t think Garrett would lie, and I am certainly not levying any accusations, but the timing of this certainly comes out of left field.

So, let’s look at it from Mason’s perspective now. Again, assuming Mason did use a racial slur, that’s not something you come back from. It’s an absolutely despicable act of hatred that in no way reflects the type of character that deserves to play in the NFL. But let’s assume he didn’t say anything. This is a very serious allegation against a young man trying to build his career in the NFL. The instant those accusations were made, regardless of if they come out true or not, in the eyes of some, maybe even many, Mason Rudolph will forever be labelled as a “racist”.  That’s a burden he will have to carry forever, regardless of whether the accusations are true or false.

Racial equality has been and continues to be an important social issue, and whether people like it or not, that will reflect in the NFL — a bi-racial league with predominantly white men in charge. The NFL is one of the world’s largest stages, so naturally there will be opportunities to raise awareness for said racial equality. But when it’s brought to light with these connotations, it tends to cast a cloud over the NFL. In this case, regardless of whether Mason Rudolph is found innocent or guilty of the accusations, both his and Myles Garrett’s careers will forever be impacted by this story.

Would love to get your thoughts, Steeler Nation. Comment below!



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