Steelers omit from video Cameron Sutton’s comments about his “message to fans” after off-field incident

Football teams are always looking for bargains. The Steelers found one in cornerback Cameron Sutton. Even if they had to hold their noses a little bit when it comes to the aroma of off-field misconduct committed by the player.

The Steelers apparently also had to trim a little footage from the end of Sutton’s media availability on Wednesday.

To summarize, authorities issued a warrant for Sutton’s arrest on felony domestic battery charges in March 2024. He remained at large for more than three weeks.

The Lions released him on March 21, despite the fact that he started every game for Detroit in 2023. Team president Rod Wood later said that, when the Lions learned of the outstanding warrant, Sutton was actually in the building.

Sutton turned himself in 10 days after his release. He was charged with misdemeanor battery. He later entered into a pretrial diversion program. The Steelers recently signed him; he had spent six years in Pittsburgh before joining the Lions as a free agent in 2023.

Sutton met with reporters on Wednesday. He was asked at the end of the session to explain his “message to fans” given the off-field incident and its consequences. Sutton first offered up a string of seemingly random cliches before saying, “I’m never worried about a narrative. I’m never worried about what necessarily people say because obviously more than likely they don’t know me more than anybody else. You know what I mean? And again, it gets back to just your foundation, your morals, who you are individually as a human being and just what you stand on. Holding my head high. Again, everybody goes through adversity, everybody goes through things in their life that can change in both directions. So it’s all about how you stand on that and what you do from that. And like I said, I’m ready to keep moving in the right direction. Everything else will keep falling in line and we just keep moving from there.”

The Steelers posted on a video of media sessions with receiver Van Jefferson, Sutton, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Sutton’s segment, however, was edited to omit the question about the “message to fans” and his answer. (The video does include an earlier comment that “[a]dversity strikes everyone in life, you know, so it’s all about how you handle it, how you necessarily go through those phases, and just knowing who you are individually, not letting someone else dim your light.”)

The whole thing creates a rough look for the Steelers. As characterized by the Tampa Bay Times, the probable cause affidavit said this: “During the argument, Sutton picked up the woman and slammed her into a wall, then bit her on the neck, leaving a quarter-sized abrasion that bled. . . . Sutton then grabbed the woman by the face and neck and choked her, causing her to briefly lose consciousness. . . . The altercation continued into the living room of the home, where Sutton held down the woman by her hair and struck her twice with his fist, causing a knot to form on the woman’s forehead.”

Entry into a diversion program triggers potential punishment under the Personal Conduct Policy. If, however, the victim does not cooperate with the NFL, it becomes harder for the NFL to get the full picture as to what did or didn’t happen.

Inevitably, Sutton will be required to meet with NFL investigators and to explain what he did. Then, some sort of penalty will be imposed. Under the Personal Conduct Policy, a first violation for domestic violence “will subject the violator to a baseline suspension without pay of six games, with possible upward or downward adjustments based on any aggravating or mitigating factors.” One of the aggravating factors listed in the policy is “choking.” Another aggravating factor is “repeated striking.” Another aggravating factor is “where the act is committed in the presence of a child.” (Sutton and the victim have three children; it’s unclear whether any of them were present for the altercation.)

Thus, to the extent Sutton’s “message to fans” is that “everybody goes through adversity,” he’s eventually going to go through more adversity in the form of a suspension without pay — one that possibly will exceed six games if the league concludes that the facts in the probable cause affidavit are more likely than not true and correct (and if it turns out that one or more children were present when the misconduct occurred).

The Steelers have decided to look the other way on this, and to wait for him during a suspension, because he’s a good player. Of course, that didn’t stop the Lions from moving swiftly to sever ties.

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