From the department of the absurd and overblown, yet unfortunately necessary to acknowledge, Ravens offensive lineman Marshal Yanda stood before reporters Wednesday and preemptively addressed the recent allegation attached to his name: That he spit on Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict during Sunday’s game.
“All right, you guys all know why I’m here,” Yanda said to start, briefly smiling, at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills. “For the record, I was accused of spitting on a player. I take a lot of pride in my character and how I was raised and the things I do in day in and day out. I would never, ever, spit on another man, another person, another individual, ever, on the field, off the field, never. That’s not the way I was raised. That’s the not the way I raise my kids.”
This is in the incident in question, initially raised by a writer for The Athletic’s Cincinnati site, who posted the below video during Sunday’s game:
What's your opinion of this? Watch Marshall Yanda. pic.twitter.com/kNGl92LxzQ— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) November 19, 2018
Michael David Smith, a writer for the popular Pro Football Talk website, escalated things with a post at 8:57 a.m. Monday headlined, “Ravens’ Marshal Yanda spat at Vontaze Burfict.”
Three minutes later, while Yanda was on his way to a charity coat drive organized by Ravens security officer Craig Singletary, Yanda got a text about the article. He read it: “It was dirty and disgusting move that should have no place in the NFL,” and that Yanda, the 34-year-old, 12th-year pro out of the University of Iowa, should expect to pay a fine from the league for his indiscretion. (That hasn’t happened.)
It may have been gross loogie, but those are produced a lot in sports, especially by 300-plus pound lineman running around and bashing into people on a chilly late fall afternoon. Yanda may be a spitter, but not that kind.
“The video shows—I mean, some people are taking it crazy—but all I was doing was wiping the spit off my helmet away from the ground,” Yanda said. “I swiped at it to make sure that it didn’t land on anybody. I don’t know if you guys know, but during the course of a game, I’m a heavy spitter. The adrenaline is fired up, but I’m always spitting all the time—sideline, on the field, obviously not on anyone, ever. But it’s just unfortunate that got twisted, and my integrity and my character is being called in question.”
Furthermore, Burfict, who has a reputation himself as of the NFL’s dirtiest players, did not react as if he were a person that was just spat on, nor did anyone else on the field seem to notice anything out of the ordinary. “You would think there would have been an eruption or a fight if that happened,” Yanda said. “[But it] made national media attention. And I’m up here talking about it right now, which I shouldn’t have to be, but that’s just the world that we live in.”
Yanda’s former teammate, Ben Watson, and current teammate, safety Eric Weddle, came to Yanda’s defense. Ravens coach John Harbaugh also took a hard stance during a press conference Monday, after initially not wanting to address the topic because it was so silly.
“For all those ‘journalists’ out there that think they somehow inherited the position to judge another man’s character when they don’t know his intention, we don’t give that any consideration whatsoever,” Harbaugh said. “None. It’s not worth it. It’s kind of an indication of where our society is going right now.”
Somewhat related, a “hot seat” Harbaugh—it was recently reported that the 11th-year coach and the Ravens are headed to a “mutual parting of ways” after the season—is kind of fun. Not only did he steadfastly defend Yanda this week, but he’s repeatedly bristled at queries that dance around the sore subject of rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson’s passing ability.
Yanda said the attack on his integrity frustrated him the most. “Yes, because the person that put that out there has no idea who I am,” he said. “He puts a video out there that can be judged on what happened and what didn’t happen, and obviously, I’m the person that has to deal with that. Most people probably aren’t going to see me talking about it right now. They’re just going to think Marshal Yanda, ‘Oh, I’ve heard, that guy spit on somebody.’ That fires me up for sure. That’s 110-percent wrong. They shouldn’t be able to have that much power.”
Indeed, it’s often truly amazing to see what takes up time and space on the internet. We got you, Marshal. We know you didn’t spit on anybody, and never would try. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.