Here's a question for the BTSC community: How do you prove something that never happened actually never happened? It is impossible to prove, or disprove for that matter, any action which never transpired. Therein lies the problem.
If no evidence is required to make an accusation, and there is no consequences for making a false accusation, then what is keeping any individual from utilizing a false claim for their own benefit or to save their own hide? Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph has been impacted by this very scenario.
Let me offer a little back story to clarify the statement. I was enjoying a little playful banter with some friends and acquaintances on social media the other day. As it is prone to do, the conversation turned into some good-natured ribbing concerning our favorite NFL teams. Fun for all, till the tone of the discussion took a sudden turn. I fully accept responsibility for my part in the debacle. I broke my own rule. I was joking around with the husband of an old friend of mine, a individual I don't know personally, who happens to be a Ravens fan.
He made some disparaging comments about the city of Pittsburgh and the Steelers fanbase. He then took offence when I said a raven was basically a flying rat, which made it the perfect mascot for the city of Baltimore and their vermin problem. He resorted to childish name calling, and making accusations about former and current Steelers players. Nary a conviction in any of incidents he mentioned, but that didn't seem to matter in his mind. Needless to say, I had no reason to suffer that foolishness and the conversation ended. I am a grown man and I will stick to adult conversations.
That whole situation got me thinking about Mason Rudolph. Last season Rudolph was involved in the most dramatic incident of the NFL season, "The Helmet Swing heard around the World". It was one of the most shocking displays of violence ever perpetrated on a NFL field, in front of a national television audience no less.
The incident, along with the national outrage, suspensions, and fines, has been well documented. I would like to focus for a moment on the accusation made by Browns DE Myles Garrett claiming a racial slur allegedly made by Rudolph instigated the whole incident. Without the benefit of any evidence, Rudolph is adamant it never happened, both parties are left to be found guilty, or not guilty, in the court of public opinion.
This scenario works out far better for Garrett than it does Rudolph. Garrett's despicable actions were obvious and not in question. The accusation of a racial slur undoubtedly provided Garrett with some semblance of justification in the minds of some fans. Mission accomplished.
For Rudolph, the accusation is far more damaging. Without an avenue to prove his innocence, he is forever labeled a racist in the minds of so many. It seems to make perfect sense actually, why else would a star player lose all self control and try to use a helmet as a deadly weapon? Rudolph is left powerless to defend himself against the disparaging remark concerning his character.
These kind of unsubstantiated accusations affect a player's reputation and earning potential. If you are a general manager or head coach, do you want to entrust your team's success, and possibly your own career, in the hands of an accused racist? What if you are looking for an advertising spokesperson for your business or product? I don't know about you, but I would simply pass on any potential drama or negative publicity.
One thing I learned from the otherwise useless conversation mentioned earlier is this article: Guilty or not, the damage has been done. It is truly a shame.