Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin appeared on ESPN’s First Take early Monday morning to express his distaste for another allegation issued by Cleveland Browns Defensive End Myles Garrett this past weekend.
Those allegations stem from an incident last November that saw Garrett strike Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Mason Rudolph over the head with a helmet during an on-field altercation.
Ultimately, the Browns’ former first-overall draft pick alleged that his actions were in retaliation to a racial slur used by Rudolph during a tackle just moments before.
Tomlin adamantly defended Rudolph, who is now the subject of speculation again. Garrett, recently reinstated by the National Football League, reignited the controversy when he doubled down on his allegation during an interview with ESPN’s Mina Kimes on Outside The Lines.
The two-time Super Bowl-winning coach stated he believed the accusations weren’t “fair” to Rudolph, while also angrily stating, “These accusations are serious, not only in terms of Mason Rudolph’s character but his professional pursuits. Nobody on that field, as a member of the Cleveland Browns or the Pittsburgh Steelers, corroborated what was said by Myles Garrett.”
Tomlin also added, “At no point during that piece this weekend was that stated.”
This defense comes after Rudolph took to Twitter over the weekend to re-establish his position and innocence in the matter.
Via his @Rudolph2Mason handle on Twitter, the quarterback stated, “1000% False. Bold-Faced Lie. I did not, have not, and would not utter a racial slur. This is a disgusting and reckless attempt to assassinate my character.”
Although Tomlin’s defense of the quarterback is admirable, Rudolph’s position is now questionable.
Garrett told Kimes that he informed former-Browns GM John Dorsey of the alleged slur shortly after the incident. The claim was confirmed by Dorsey on Monday via the Akron Beacon Journal.
In a text exchange with the Beacon Journal, Dorsey confirmed that it was “correct” that Garrett informed him of the racial slur accusation quickly, while also stating, “it’s the truth” regarding the recollection.
Giving credit where credit is due, I find myself taking my hat off for Mike Tomlin. Who doesn’t like a coach who steps up to go-to-bat for his guy? My only reservation is that I hope the future Hall-of-Fame coach isn’t setting himself up for a hard fall.
This matter is he said, he said and is now starting to unfold in a tic-for-tac manner. To make things worse, the alleged racial elements provide the fuel to turn this controversy into a full-fledged, gasoline-fueled inferno.
This story is like an onion. Details are beginning to emerge, and the controversy is beginning to peel itself back; one layer at a time. What started as a normal football play instantly transitioned into a controversy involving the weaponized use of a helmet. Fines and suspensions were handed down.
Now, three-and-a-half months later it has evolved into a full-fledged racial issue, which lacks concrete evidence that results in the development of conspiracy theories suggesting foul play on behalf of the NFL.
With higher-ups on both ends now involved, the incident and allegations have evolved into a full-scale saga, which leaves everyone engaged wondering when exactly this plot will turn next.
Will the search for truth unveil a cover-up by the league, or maybe transcend into a judicial matter with legal ramifications? As of now, this is one man’s word against another’s.