“I take a lot of pride in my character and how I was raised,” said Yanda, a Pro Bowl guard for the Baltimore Ravens. “I would never, ever spit on another man, another person, individual ever.”
The sequence in question occurred in the fourth quarter after Burfict tackled Baltimore running back Alex Collins and a minor scuffle ensued involving several players.
Video from the CBS broadcast of the game shows spit coming from Yanda’s mouth while Burfict was on the ground after the play, and Burfict had no apparent reaction.
“The video, some people are taking it crazy, but all I was doing was wiping the spit off my helmet, away from the ground,” Yanda said Wednesday. “I swiped at it to make sure that it didn’t land on anybody. I don’t know if you guys know, during the course of a game, I’m like a heavy spitter. The adrenaline is fired up, and I’m spitting all the time — sidelines, on the field, but not on anyone ever.”
Neither Burfict nor the Bengals have publicly commented on the incident.
Yanda learned of the video at 9 a.m. Monday while heading to a charity event and was stunned that people assumed he spit on Burfict.
“It’s just unfortunate that it got twisted,” Yanda said. “My integrity and my character is being called in question because that does really matter to me. It’s really unfortunate. That would never be anything that would ever even be fathomed in my mind. That’s not the player I am.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh strongly defended Yanda on Monday.
“This guy has been playing 11 years and played at the University of Iowa, for whoever wrote the article that makes the insinuation, have you ever heard of Marshal Yanda’s character being attacked or him doing something along those lines ever in his whole career?” Harbaugh asked rhetorically. “But now all of a sudden, we’re going to say, ‘Oh, I know Marshal Yanda spit at somebody.’ Really? Come on, there’s no way.”
Yanda, 34, is considered one of the NFL’s top offensive linemen in recent years. He has gone to six Pro Bowls and was named first team All-Pro twice.
In 2016, Yanda was a finalist for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship award. His hope is that these allegations don’t tarnish his reputation.
“Most people probably aren’t even going to see me talking about it right now, and they’re going to think, ‘Oh, Marshal Yanda, I heard that guy spit on somebody,'” Yanda said. “Obviously, that fires me up for sure. That’s my character. That’s my integrity. That’s everything I live for day in and day out as a person and a father. That’s 110 percent wrong.”