Ravens guard Marshal Yanda stridently defended himself Wednesday against accusations that he spat on a Cincinnati Bengals player Sunday, saying that it “would never be anything that would ever even be fathomed in my mind.”
In his first public comments since video emerged of a wad of spit falling from Yanda's mouth as he stood over Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the Ravens veteran acknowledged that he was spitting, but that it landed on the ground. He said he’d raised his left hand afterward to make sure it hadn’t fallen on anyone.
“I take a lot of pride in my character and how I was raised and the things that I do, day in and day out,” Yanda said. “I would never, ever spit on another man, another person, individual, ever. On the field, off the field, never. That's not the the way I was raised. That's not the way I raise my kids. ...
“It's just unfortunate that [the video] got twisted, and my integrity and my character is being called into question, because that doesn’t really matter to me. It's really unfortunate, but that's what went down. Just want to put that out there. That would never be anything that would ever even be fathomed in my mind. That's just not the player that I am.”
Yanda called himself a “heavy spitter” during games — “The adrenaline’s fired up, and I’m always spitting all the time” — but said that if he had earned a reputation over his 12 years in the NFL for misbehavior, “that would've come out by now, right, if I was that type of guy.” He also pointed to the Bengals’ inaction after his alleged spitting: “You would think that there would've been an eruption or a fight if that happened.”
“Most people probably aren't even going to see me talking about it right now,” he said. “They're just going to think that, 'Oh, Marshal Yanda, I've heard that guy spit on somebody.' Obviously, that fires me up, for sure. Like I said, that's my character, that's my integrity, that's everything that I live for, day in and day out, as a person, as a father, everything. So, yeah, that's wrong. That's 110 percent wrong. They shouldn't be able to have that much power.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Burfict had not talked to reporters about the incident. But on Tuesday, he tweeted, “I’m happy y’all starting to see the whole picture,” seemingly in reference to the video of Yanda. Asked whether the NFL would "do anything about it," Burfict wrote: "Hell nah the NFL mad I didn't retaliate."
Yanda said he didn't know whether he would hear from league officials, who have fined players tens of thousands of dollars for spitting on other players during games.
"The people that know me, the people that know the man I am and how I go about my business and how I treat people, [know] that I would never do that,” said Yanda, who received support Monday from coach John Harbaugh and former Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson. “Anybody that knows me and has been around here in this building, that couldn't be further from the person I am and the guy that I am."