When news broke about Lars Sullivan’s past discriminatory comments, many fans and media members expected there to be serious backlash within the company. This was only amplified when Big E would address the comments publicly via Twitter.
WWE would handle this situation swiftly once all of the details were gathered and would fine Sullivan a hefty $100,000 while also requiring him to attend sensitivity training. In general, this was a good step forward for WWE who were being pressured by their sponsors to take action. This was also a good way for the company to set a precedent for any future indiscretions of this nature.
While WWE as a company took action, though, there were still questions floating around regarding Sullivan’s status backstage among his peers, many of whom are minorities. Part of this was answered when fellow WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil would tweet about the situation Wednesday.
He’d further discuss his thoughts on the Sullivan situation on the E&C Pod of Awesomeness, as well.
“Lars sought me out,” O’Neil said. “And he sought other people out. And I sat with Lars for about thirty-five minutes in Talent Relations just me and him. I saw a man that clearly, number one, made mistakes in his choice of words and his mindset and how he expressed himself years before he became a co-worker of mine.”
For O’Neil, this wasn’t a cut-and-dry situation of someone displaying racist tendencies in their past and being unable to change. Instead, O’Neil believes that there’s room for growth for anyone willing to try.
“People automatically called for him to be fired, called for him to be ostracized. My thing is number one, people change. And if that’s who he really is, then yeah, he has no place in any profession whether it’s professional wrestling or wherever.
He doesn’t deserve to live a life of luxury or live a life of grace if he chooses to be that person. But I looked a man who was humble. Very apologetic. Very misguided as well.
We dwelled and talked about some things. Not to say, there’s ever an excuse but until you know someone’s story and until you know somebody personally, you can’t take it [personally] and you can’t come up with your own conclusions because there is a conclusion and there is a reason why people get to a certain point and do certain things.”
O’Neil has always taken a practical approach that’s led with learning as the primary function of most situations. This one was no different.
“I believe in my heart that this situation with Lars will be a teachable moment for everybody from all walks of life. And I’m willing to put my name on this situation just going with my gut and my heart simply because of how he came to me as a man. And how he came to other people as a man and said ‘Look, man, I don’t have any answers. I don’t have any excuses. I just want to be a better human being.’
As a man, to sit down with another man in that circumstance, you have my utmost respect. He could have easily evaded me. He could easily let the company deal with it however they were going to deal with it and not said a word. And he chose to go a different route.”
This certainly can be a very big teaching moment for not only Sullivan but those who are quick to close the door on somebody’s ability to change in a decades time. Not everybody is worthy of instant respect, but people are able to learn from mistakes and better themselves in time. We’ll see if Sullivan is truly able to learn from this.