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ESPN goes on the defensive regarding their handling of the Myles Garrett/Mason Rudolph reports

After Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin was critical of the network’s coverage this weekend, an ESPN representative reached out to BTSC to share their side of the story

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Following Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin‘s appearance on First Take Monday morning, I ran a story at Behind The Steel Curtain which highlighted Coach Tomlin’s comments. Although the majority of what Coach Tomlin had to say was in defense of quarterback Mason Rudolph, he was also critical of how ESPN framed the narrative on their show Outside The Lines.

As the author of the article, I was personally contacted by a representative at ESPN who wanted to offer a rebuttal to Coach Tomlin‘s statement and wished to provide our readers context. The statement by Coach Tomlin in which ESPN is disputing is when Coach Tomlin stated, “It was a thorough investigation done by us and the National Football League. I don’t think it was represented during that piece.” Tomlin when on to state, “Nobody on that field as a member of the Cleveland Browns or Pittsburgh Steelers corroborated what was said by Myles Garrett. That was founded by us and the National Football League. At no point during that piece this weekend that was stated.”

In the article which ran on Monday at Behind The Steel Curtain, we summed up Coach Tomlin‘s feelings on the subject by saying, “Tomlin took great offense to the panel on ESPN’s Outside The Lines and how they failed to mention the conclusion of the investigation by the NFL.”

In wanting to clarify the statement, the representative from ESPN brought up the fact there is was a graphic which ran during the show (shown below) stating the NFL found so such evidence of Garrett’s claims. In addition to running the graphic, Jeremy Schaap also mentioned the NFL found no evidence of his claim and Mina Kimes also asked Garrett the question in the interview.


What ESPN is taking exception to is the statement that coach Tomlin said they never mentioned the investigation found no evidence, but they believe they mentioned it twice.

The representative from ESPN offered to send me the link to the Outside The Lines episode for my viewing purposes. In reviewing the episode, I can understand where ESPN is coming from. Unfortunately, I believe they are not completely correct in their assessment.

Mike Tomlin’s problem with ESPN not mentioning the results of the investigation is the fact ESPN never mentioned there was an investigation. Coach Tomlin said, “It was not represented during that piece,” which is a factual statement. Not only did ESPN not even begin to mention the depth of the investigation of the NFL which included player interviews, officiating crew interviews, and reviewing all audio and video sources available, they never even mentioned that an investigation took place. Yes, they said the NFL found nothing. But why not mention the extent to which the NFL went to in order to find something? Why did they specifically leave out that there was an investigation? Instead, they glossed over it so easily it could be implied the NFL wasn’t truly looking to find anything.

This is exactly what Coach Tomlin took exception to. Rather than say there was a thorough investigation and lay out how the evidence lies completely in Mason Rudolph’s court, they just easily brushed off that there wasn’t any evidence found with no explanation. By not outlining the depth to which the NFL and the Steelers sought out the evidence, the other side of the story was given little to no credibility during the piece. Instead, ESPN chose to focus on only one side of a story with no evidence to support it, ultimately seeking “views” and “clicks” instead of truth.

When given the opportunity to respond, the representative from ESPN wanted to reiterate that they did mention the findings of the NFL multiple times even though they did not include an explanation that there was a detailed investigation.

I would encourage you to judge the situation for yourself. Unfortunately, the entire Outside The Lines episode cannot be shared due to copyright reasons. OTL has yet to release just the roundtable discussion about Garrett’s interview. I’ve been working with ESPN personnel on being able to share the segment but it has not been made available at this time. If it becomes available, it will be posted here with an update.

If you are one of the viewers who were able to view the roundtable discussion on Outside The Lines, was Mike Tomlin accurate in saying they did not present both sides of the argument fairly? Hopefully you are able to eventually draw your own conclusion. If you are able to view the video at some point, make sure you notice the word “investigation” is nowhere to be found in the segment.