If you know me, then you know I’m a Steelers fan. I’ve been a fan since I was a little girl when I watched football games with my mom. She was a Steelers fan, so I became a fan.
Being a fan, I know there are certain games that are going to be a street fight: Steelers vs. Bengals, Steelers vs. Ravens, and Steelers vs. Browns. Thursday night’s game (Nov. 14, 2019) against the Browns was no different. From the kickoff, it was a slugfest — hits-to-the-helmet, trash-talking, players locked in battle. It was no shock that we were getting our asses kicked because we were in Browns territory. We were down 14-0 at halftime, and we were struggling to convert on 3rd down. It didn’t look good. So I stopped watching, plus I was watching at a bowling alley. So, I went home. I just couldn’t watch anymore, I hate losing.
So, I wasn’t even shocked when my sorority sister texted me around 10:30pm and told me our Quarterback and O-Line were duking it out during the last 10 seconds of the game. It’s what our teams do when they play each other, but being curious, I went to YouTube (you can find just about anything on YouTube). Sure enough, someone had posted a 5 minute video of the entire brawl complete with replays and slow motion.
What was clear to me was that Mason Rudolph, our quarterback, started it. Myles Garrett breaks through our line and wraps Rudolph right on up and begins to take him down handily with a nice, clean tackle. Rudolph seems to flip Garrett around in a crazy wrestling move, but Garrett ends up on top anyway. It’s during this moment you can clearly see Rudolph try to take off Garrett’s helmet. What happens next will be talked about for years (well in the social media era for the next 24 hours). As Steeler lineman David DeCastro comes up to separate the two, Garrett snatched off Rudolph’s helmet. Rudolph is still in his face and appears to be talking a truckload of shit when Garrett clocks him with his own helmet as if to say, “BITCHHHHH! You got me fucked up!” At this point, Rudolph throws up his hands in the classic, “I’m innocent! Come on!” fashion. Anyone can see the suspensions coming against Rudolph, Garrett, Maurkice Pouncey who kicked Garrett in the head, and Larry Ogunjobi who pushed Mason down to which he replied, “Bitch!”
And sure enough, the NFL swiftly issued suspensions today! For Garrett, Pouncey, and Ogunjobi. But Mason Rudolph…crickets.
Here is where I’m bothered: Pouncey got a three-game suspension; Browns’ Ogunjobi got a one-game suspension, and Myles Garrett is suspended indefinitely — all without pay. I’m trying to figure out how Rudolph escaped this situation unscathed. Not one game. Not one fine. Racism and white privilege is how.
Garrett, Pouncey, and Ogunjobi are ALL men of color; Mason Rudolph is white. The nature of the assault gives the NFL an excuse to punish the three men of color and do absolutely nothing to Rudolph. Is it ok that Rudolph only tried to pull off Garrett’s helmet and didn’t actually do it? Is Garrett’s brain less important because he’s a defensive end and not a quarterback? No. It’s just easier for the NFL to bypass Rudolph’s transgressions because he’s a white male.
Even still, Rudolph refers to Garrett as a coward in a later. Only your privilege (and cowardice) would allow you to think it’s okay to attack someone and not expect them to retaliate. Like I tell my kids in high school, “You get to make the choices, but that doesn’t mean you get to choose the consequences.” Mason Rudolph, for whatever reason, chose to grab and try to take off Myles Garrett’s helmet. He doesn’t get to choose how Garrett responds. Garrett chose to whoop his ass…with said helmet.
I’m sure there are many football experts out there who will defend Rudolph and the NFL’s actions. I’m not a football expert. I love the game, even when it gets violent. However, to continue to ignore this type of blatant unfairness in punishment is foolish and unfair.
Black folks are tired — tired of ignoring the obvious. We can see it, and so can you, even in a game as minor and as frivolous as football. If black people have to fight these inequities in an entertaining game of sport, just imagine how hard real life must be.
P.S. As a fan, we look like some straight up B’s for starting a fight because we lost. Thanks, Mason. #notagoodlook👎🏾