CLEVELAND — Myles Garrett says he has no excuse for the incident that cost him the final six games of the season, possibly cost his team a playoff run and may have cost his coach and GM their jobs.
Except by reiterating that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph used a racial slur — as Garrett did in a ESPN interview this week — he invites the argument that he’s still trying to justify his behavior even as he says he is not.
Or why else bring it up again three months later and with reinstatement behind him?
Garrett has run a gamut here: he didn’t mention it publicly the night of the brawl, then issued an apology to Rudolph and the Steelers for his helmet-swinging, told NFL officials about a slur in a closed-door hearing, got angry it was leaked, then talked about it again in an interview with ESPN’s Mina Kimes.
“When he said it, it kind of sparked something, but I still tried to let it go and still walk away,” Garrett said of the Nov. 14 incident. "But once he came back, it kind of reignited the situation. And not only have you escalated things past what they needed to be with such little time in the game left, now you’re trying to re-engage and start a fight again.
“It’s definitely not entirely his fault, it’s definitely both parties doing something that we shouldn’t have been doing.''
Not entirely his fault? That’s one way to look at it.
I won’t pass judgment on whether Garrett is telling the truth. Rudolph denies the allegation.
“I don’t want to make it racial thing, honestly,” he told Kimes. “It’s over with for me, and I’m pretty sure it’s over with for Mason, so we just want to move past it and keep on playing football.’'
There’s no way not to make it a racial thing. It can’t be anything else.
There is a way to prove you’re over it, though. Continuing to talk about it — especially if you aren’t using it as an excuse — isn’t it.
- The Houston Astros met privately with owner Jim Crane to discuss dealing with the publicity around the cheating scandal that cost the organization its manager, GM, $5 million and two years of top draft choices.
If only the answers to how to deal with it were as easy as hitting a pitcher when you know what he’s going to throw.
- We saw what the Astros came up with Thursday, and it wasn’t good. Imagine if they hadn’t hired a crisis PR firm.
The players were contrite once they got off script but Crane sabotaged that effort by claiming more than one absurdity.
"Our opinion is that this didn't impact the game,” said Crane, who later denied he said the sign-stealing didn’t impact the game.
Crane took no responsibility for the scheme. Even though allegations of the Astros cheating were made public as far back as 2017, Crane maintained he learned about the sign-stealing this past November.
I know what you’re thinking. Wasn’t there someone in the organization that could’ve tipped Crane off ahead of time, since that’s what the Astros seem to do best.
- Whether Crane knew or legitimately was unaware his players were using technology to decode pitch signs and banging trash cans to signal hitters, taking no responsibility as owner is terrible PR.
When asked about particulars of the cheating, Crane twice said, “I didn’t do the investigation.”
And if left up to him, we can fairly presume, he wouldn’t have.
- Houston’s attempt at damage control isn’t likely to quiet critics. The cheating was egregious enough. Crane’s contradictions won’t help.
The Astros apologized for something the owner says didn’t help them win the World Series and thus doesn’t really require an apology.
- Mike Clevinger told us at TribeFest that the sign-stealing was a bigger advantage for hitters than steroids.
“If you asked a lot of pitchers would you rather (face) Sammy Sosa not knowing what was coming or your league average hitter knowing every pitch, 100% of the time you’re picking Sammy Sosa," Clevinger said.
The Astros should send Rob Manfred flowers for letting them keep their title.
And not just on Valentine’s Day.
- Tom Brady’s future in New England is undetermined, though he clearly has one important ally in his corner.
“You know what I want,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said.
And this time he didn’t mean a massage.
- Brady is 43. After 20 years in the same system, it won’t be easy for him to go to another organization, learn that coordinator/head coach’s language and recreate the success he’s enjoyed in New England.
Especially with the age clock ticking on him.
As far as the Patriots go, they don’t have a ready replacement.
It would seem to make the most sense for Brady to chase one more championship in New England while the Pats find a reasonable alternative.
And when something seems to make the most sense in sports, that’s when you should probably bet against it happening.
- Some people believe Bill Belichick is so pragmatic, so naturally adept at keeping his emotions in check, that when it comes time to make Brady’s departure official he’ll do it in one line: “Thanks for your contributions.”
But after 20 years, Belichick’s message won’t be that short.
“To Whom It May Concern” will also be included.
Possibly on a bar napkin.
- Andre Drummond was productive, if not dominant, in his Cavs debut against the Clippers last Sunday but watched his new team suffer the worst home loss in franchise history.
The Cavs were much better in a home win against Atlanta Wednesday, winning easily.
Just in time to hit the brakes for the All-Star game and lose whatever passes for momentum when a team has won twice in 13 games.
- Coach John Beilein probably needs the break as much as his players. There are 28 games remaining in a season that has tried Beilein’s patience.
He’ll now have five days to try not to think about still having a stretch ahead equal to the length of an entire college basketball season.
I’m near Beilein’s age and I got tired just writing that sentence.
- Have a weekend.