As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, during his appeal hearing, Cleveland Browns defense end Myles Garrett asserted that during his altercation with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, the latter, who is white, used a racial epithet to refer to the former, who is black.
Outside of teammates, Garrett has gotten little support for his side of the story; however, this should not be a story in the first place. Not because the accusation is unsubstantiated, but because it was made inside of a closed meeting that was supposed to remain confidential. The fact that this has become a story lies as much at the feet of whoever leaked it and the media who craved reporting it.
For his part, Garrett issued a statement after it all blew up, pointing out that very fact, that what was said in the appeal hearing was supposed to be confidential. He also made it clear, however, that he has not walked back his claim, echoing, “I know what I heard”.
— Myles “Flash” Garrett ⚡️ (@MylesLGarrett) November 22, 2019
Nobody else, however, has heard what Garrett heard, nor has anybody heard from Garrett that he believes that is what he heard. Not one single teammate, coach, or acquaintance of the Pro Bowl edge defender who has been asked about it has affirmed that he spoke of the use of a racial epithet to them. Nor did he ever indicate in any of his public statements that Rudolph said anything to spark his ire.
Through a league spokesman, the NFL issued a brief statement to make clear that it “found no evidence” of the use of any sort of racial epithet on Rudolph’s part, though as Cleveland.com points out, the league reportedly had no audio evidence available to them, and instead relied upon testimonial from the nearby official and from visual evidence.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league looked into Myles Garrett’s allegations that Mason Rudolph used a racial slur last Thursday night before the brawl “and found no such evidence.”
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 21, 2019
We don’t know with absolute certainty that anything was or was not said; there is, however, no evidence in support of Garrett’s claim outside of the fact that he himself has made the claim. It’s a possibility that something was said; more likely, however, if anything, Garrett ‘heard what he heard’, rather than having heard what was said. As in, he misheard something. If there was anything to hear.
If we work under the assumption that the claim has no basis in reality, then it is incredibly unfortunate for Rudolph, who, while being very widely defended on the matter, will still have this hang over his head, at least for a while, if not for the rest of his life. There will be people who will go to their grave insisting that he made a derogatory racist remark, even if there is no supporting that claim.
And the burden for that? It falls on those who disseminated the accusation. Perhaps there is a reason Garrett didn’t state it publicly. But now it is public, thanks to whoever it is that chose to leak that detail from the appeal hearing, and the media outlets more than willing to public it. That more than the accusation itself is hurting Rudolph, because it otherwise would not have been known.