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NFLOpinion

White Privilege Is Why Mason Rudolph Didn’t Get Suspended

The day before Colin Kaepernick’s workout takes place in Atlanta, the league proved yet again which race of people that it actually prefers.

Image Credit: Getty Images

On Friday afternoon, the NFL released penalties for three of the four men involved in the brawl that took place at the end of Thursday’s night game between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The white guy, Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, was completely absolved.

No suspensions.

No fines.

It’s pretty incredible when you think about it, especially since Rudolph started the whole thing and kicked Garrett in the genitals. I mean, something had to happen for a guy to act so out of character.

But white privilege never makes sense, unless you’re white.

Browns’ defensive end Myles Garrett was rightfully suspended, without pay,  indefinitely, and is done for the season. Garrett’s suspension was expected, given that he used Rudolph’s helmet as a weapon to strike the Steelers quarterback in the head.

“I didn’t see why it started, but it’s inexcusable. I don’t care, rivalry or not, we can’t do that,” said Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, after Cleveland’s 21-7 win. “That’s kind of the history of what’s been going on here lately, hurting yourself. That’s endangering the other team.

“That’s inexcusable. He knows that. Well, I hope he does now. It’s tough. We’ll see.”

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey is suspended for three games for being the best teammates on Earth, as he had his Rudolph’s back and kicked and punched Garrett in retaliation.

Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi’s suspension is for one game after he got a cheap shot in on Rudolph after the melee.

The league also decided to hit both teams with a $250,000 fine.

According to the NFL, further discipline is on the way. And it is being reported that Rudolph will receive a fine. But will it even matter given that the person who started it all wasn’t listed in the first round of punishments?

There will be many that “won’t see color” in this, which is laughable, let alone prejudice. Because while Garrett’s actions on Thursday night went way past a line that should never be crossed, it was Rudolph who was there every step of the way pouring gasoline on a wildfire.

Rudolph was the one who first tried to snatch Garrett’s helmet off as they tussled on the turf. And it was Rudolph who had the audacity to run up on a man that stands 6’4” and weighs 272 pounds, who had his own helmet in his hands, ready to wield it like a weapon.

Look, no one should ever absolve Garrett for what he did. But it feels like Rudolph is being exonerated, and that’s just wrong.

“I lost my cool, and I regret it,” said Garrett. “I appreciate when my team had my back, but it should have never got to that point.

“What I did was foolish and I shouldn’t allow myself to slip like that.”

A few months ago, we saw Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict get suspended for a minimum of 12 games. The helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts’ Jack Doyle was just the latest in a long history of violent and dirty plays on Burfict’s resume.

In 2006, Albert Haynesworth got five games for ripping off the helmet of Dallas’ Cowboys center Andre Gurode, as he tried to stomp on his head. Burfict and Garrett now own the two longest on-field suspensions in NFL history.

Despite all the rules changes, football will never stand the test of time if it continues at this pace. But while incidents like this are football problems, they also highlight the NFL’s biggest issue, the continued allowance of double standards.

There have been players who had served shorter suspensions in the NFL for hitting women. But, when it’s grown men in pads, assault seems to be acceptable.

And in a league that’s over 70% black, white players like Rudolph are the minority that somehow get protected as if they were the majority.

“Where did it cross the line? Maybe where he took my helmet off and used it as a weapon,” said Rudolph during the postgame press conference. Pretty brazen words for a guy that had just thrown four interceptions and is on video trying to rip Garrett’s helmet off.

But, the most interesting thing about all of this is the timing. Because the day before Colin Kaepernick’s workout takes place in Atlanta, the league proved yet again which race of people that it actually prefers.

So for all of you that were hoping that Kaepernick’s dreams were close to becoming a reality, the NFL’s decision on Rudolph was a reminder of just how much of a nightmare the league can be.

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