Myles Garrett’s swinging helmet assault on Mason Rudolph was brought back into the news over the last week with Garrett’s reinstatement by the NFL. Garrett went on ESPN’s Outside the Lines at 9 AM Saturday morning for an interview with Mina Kimes, and during that interview, Garrett once again alleged that Rudolph used a racial slur in the leadup to the brawl.
After the interview, Adam Schefter talked to OTL host Ryan Smith about Garrett’s allegations and didn’t say a whole lot, calling it a he said/he said situation where we’d never learn the whole truth unless full audio of the incident and the lead-up to it ended up surfacing.
On Monday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin went on First Take, and defended Rudolph while criticizing both Garrett and OTL, the latter for what he claimed was one-sided coverage.
However, during the panel discussion Tomlin was discussing, ESPN did in fact state the NFL didn’t find evidence to back up claims, both through an on-screen graphic and from the mouth of Jeremy Schaap.
I can’t fault Tomlin for defending his player (because in reality, which head coach wouldn’t?), but the absence of evidence doesn’t mean someone is innocent. Back in November, the NFL heard Garrett’s appeal and judged that there was “no such evidence” that Rudolph used a slur. If nobody within the vicinity of Garrett or Rudolph was miked up, there’s not going to be any evidence either way. Given that the burden of proof will be on Garrett to defend his claim, absence of any evidence is more than enough for everyone involved…even if it may not be accurate.
I do like ESPN managing to bring a three month old story back into the news, based almost exclusively on their own programming. Kimes interviews Garrett on OTL. Rudolph responds to Garrett’s interview. Tomlin goes on First Take to defend Garrett and criticize ESPN’s coverage. ESPN analysts talk about the interview and the comments from all parties involved the rest of the day. It’s yet another example of the ESPN echo chamber, creating content out of comments either made on ESPN or by an ESPN personality. Unfortunately in this case, we’re talking about a story that hasn’t changed all that much in three months, and we’re all just going to be rehashing the same arguments with nothing new to go on.