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Controversy Brewing At Alma Mater Of Steelers’ Washington, Rudolph Surrounding Head Coach

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a pair of Oklahoma State products during the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, first adding wide receiver James Washington in the second round, then coming back a short time later in the third to get his quarterback, Mason Rudolph, who players they hoped may play long-term roles in the franchise.

Both got an extended opportunity to play last season, though in Rudolph’s case, it was only because of Ben Roethlisberger’s injury. It’s fair to say that he had his ups and downs. Even with the quality of play at quarterback, however, Washington did show growth, leading the team in receiving yards.

While Rudolph should be going back to taking a seat this year behind Roethlisberger—he is hoping to retain his backup job at this point—Washington should continue to work in the starting lineup along with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson in 2020.

Neither have weighed in on what has suddenly been brewing at their alma mater yesterday, however, with a number of current and former Oklahoma State players voicing their frustrations after the university’s football head coach, Mike Gundy, wore a shirt with the new channel One America News on it. He has also previously made it clear that he is a fan of the network.

Some of the team’s most prominent players, including running back Chuba Hubbard, reacted strongly to the photo, Tweeting that he “will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE”. Later in the day, a video was posted by him with Gundy following a meeting with players.

Gundy said that he was “made aware of some things” from players that he believes can make the organization stronger. Hubbard then spoke, apologizing for using Twitter to express himself. “But from now on, we’re gonna focus on bringing change, and that’s the most important thing”, he said.

For those who are unfamiliar with OAN, it launched in 2013, and is best-known not just for leaning pretty heavily to the right, but also for promoting debunked conspiracy theories and engages in other harmful and journalistically unethical practices. In March, they claimed the coronavirus originated in a North Carollina laboratory, funded in part by Dr. Anthony Fauci. The network is also one of the principle originators and proliferators of conspiracy theories surrounding the 75-year-old man who was pushed by Buffalo police officers last month.

It’s unclear where the end of the road is with this and if there will be continued dialogue. As mentioned, some prominent alumni such as Kenny Stills also weighed in, and told Hubbard that he did nothing wrong by taking to Twitter, that it forced Gundy to listen, and noted that the coach “didn’t even apologize”.

What I wonder is if the embers of this story will burn long enough that it will force Washington or Rudolph to answers questions about it in time. Neither is the type to go out of their way to publicly comment on something, especially something controversial.

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