It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Mason Rudolph, there’s certainly no way around that. He struggled on the field. He lost his composure when he felt he was being wronged, and it ended up with him being struck in the head with his own helmet. He was then accused of racism, continued to struggle, and learned earlier this week he was being demoted.
It’s not that easy to conjure up a worse stretch for an NFL quarterback in a realistic scenario, and even this is bordering on believability. You don’t get too much people hit in the head with their own helmet, let alone having had that followed up with an accusation of using a racial slur.
For Rudolph, despite adamantly denying the charge, the fear has been that that will be the thing that sticks to him for the rest of his life. Truth be told, for some—chiefly those who don’t care anything about him, and will probably spend little to no time ever thinking about him for the rest of their lives—that may be what they remember.
“That specific allegation, yes, that affects my family and it’s tough for them to see something so false be circulated about my family name”, the quarterback told Will Graves of the Associated Press yesterday. “That’s tough. But Coach Tomlin talked about it well. When you’re in the spotlight, you’re going to expect those types of things to be said, but you’ve got to block it out and move on. That’s what I’ve done and that’s what I’ll continue to do”.
That allegation came out after it was leaked to reporters that Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett used it as part of his suspension appeal, during which he was trying to remove the indefinite part of his indefinite suspension for striking Rudolph with his own helmet.
Despite that surfacing during the week, he doesn’t blame any of that for how he performed a week later against the Cincinnati Bengals, a game in which he was benched just a drive into the second half, and which led to Devlin Hodges announced as the starter Sunday.
“I don’t think so at all”, he said on if that situation affected his play. “I think I was clear as soon as that last allegation was made. It was about a day that we kind of handled that, and then once we moved forward, I was clear-headed, ready to play Cincinnati. I’ve just got to play better, make corrections, move on, and get better”.
He added, “I think I will, and I’ll be ready whenever my number’s called”.