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The NFL Shield Takes A Hit By Mark Hollis

The long-standing rivalry between the Pittsburg Steelers and the Cleveland Browns flared once again and resulted in several players being suspended. The incident that precipitated the suspensions occurred when the Pittsburg Steelers’ quarterback, Mason Rudolph, was sacked by the Browns’ Miles Garrett. After Rudolph was taken down, he could be seen grabbing the facemask of Garrett and yelling a few choice words in his direction. In response Miles grabbed Mason’s helmet and snatched it from his head. Pittsburg offensive linemen Donald De Castro and Matt Feiler attempted to separate Garrett from Rudolph, but Mason continued with his aggressive behavior. Garrett proceeded to strike Rudolph on the side of his head with the helmet and was finally taken to the ground. The melee didn’t end there as other teammates joined the fray including Maurice Pouncey and Larry Ogunjobi. Eventually, order was restored to the game.

During the post-game interviews, it was quite apparent that the orchestrated response for Miles Garrett was to be “no comment.” The other players involved spoke freely about the incident, offering their points of view. Pouncey indicated he was protecting his quarterback while Ogunjobi admitted to overreacting and Rudolph stated he used some choice words. The league suspended Miles Garrett indefinitely, Pouncey was given a two-game suspension, and Ogunjobi was suspended for one game. All three were fined as well for their involvement. Mason Rudolph faced no suspension but was levied the largest fine of all the players at $50,000.00.

After the NFL suspended Miles Garrett, he appealed the league’s ruling stating that he reacted the way he did because Mason Rudolph used a racial epithet during the melee. Garrett lost the appeal, but there was no clear indication of how the investigation took place. My concern and questions revolve around how the investigation was conducted. Were Donald De Castro and Matt Feiler, who were close enough to the incident, able to hear any negative comments and were they, questioned about it? And although Mason Rudolph was not suspended by the league, why did the Pittsburg Steelers bench him after the game? Another question left unanswered is did the team in fact find that Mason used the racial slur? Let’s be honest; racism can exist in many different facets of society and the NFL is no different and a South Carolina native like Mason Rudolph may have crossed the line.

The NFL has long sought to protect the shield and incidents like the Steelers and the Browns stains America’s game. The league has a long way to go starting with the black balling of Colin Kaepernick and the recent charade of offering him a day to put his talents on display. They had no intention of giving him an honest look. There is also no reason for him to be out of the game. It all centers on racial acceptability and the NFL needs to respond correctly.

My final thoughts are that the NFL needs to revisit Miles Garrett’s suspension and put Kaepernick back into action.