Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell goes on rant about NFL policies on hits

USA Today Sports 10 days ago

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell is not happy with the one-game suspension his teammate, receiver Ju-Ju Smith-Shuster received for his hit on Cincinnati Bengals Vontaze Burflict.

Mitchell went on a four-minute rant to reporters Wednesday about how the NFL is penalizing players for hits, and what constitutes a dirty hit.

He started off blasting the league, saying that football is a "dangerous, barbaric game."

“I don't know man. Man, just hand us all some flags. Hand us all some flags and let us go out there and try to grab the flags off them because we're not playing football. This is not damn football. When I was six years old watching Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Sean Taylor, the hitters, Jack Tatum — that's football. This ain't football. You got to know what the risk is when you sign up. No one wants to be paralyzed, no one wants to have head injuries, these are all things that are negative. But let's not try to change football into a dangerous, barbaric game.

"This is how I've changed my family legacy. Before I got drafted I had $368 in my bank account. That is far from the case today. I've changed my family legacy by this beautiful game of football for forever. So let's not try to change it into some evil, dirty game. It's football. It's no different from UFC fighting. This is a combat, contact sport. There's going to be injuries. That's just what it is. But if you don't want to get injured then don't come out here.

"This is for real men. This is a man's game. Ray Lewis said that a couple years ago. I stand by that. It's a man's game. If you want to be a little kid, if you don't want to get your [butt] hit then don't come out here. Because it's for grown men. Straight like that.”

Then he addressed his tweets about Bengals safety George Iloka, who originally was suspended for one game for a hit on Antonio Brown, but had that lifted and was fined instead. Then launched into another rant about how rough the game is.

“At the end of the day, man, especially — like I'm sitting here talking to George after the game because he is one of my good friends because that's why I felt like I had to tweet and try and defend him because I think it's just crazy like I know George and I know his fiancee. He's not that way, but we are physical safeties and think about what you ask us to do. We're always the last line of defense. We're always making bang-bang plays. You never see us getting to line somebody up in the hole like a linebacker. We're playing full speed. He's 4.4, we're 4.4, 4.3 speed, like aim that. You go do that. You can't. It's just the risk of playing football.

"If a guy, if the ball is in the air and a man jumps or a man ducks his head, how do you want me to readjust my body? You cannot do it. At the end of the day this is foot-ball. If you want to see flag football then let's take our pads off. That would make it easier for me because now I don't got to wear heavy (expletive). But give us flags for me to pull off because that way I know what we're playing. I signed up to play full-speed contact football and we're not doing that. I feel like I got to ask a guy 'Hey, are you ready for me to hit you right now before I hit you?' And that's crazy.

"I'm going to mess around and get hurt trying to protect an offensive player because he's running an over route. Damnit, your quarterback shouldn't have threw that ball messed up. That happened two years ago. That's — I'm not joking at all. Andy Dalton threw a ball to Tyler Eifert two years ago. Tyler Eifert had to dive for it. I was aiming for his gut, but if he don't dive he don't get hit in the head. That's 50-grand out of my pocket though because Andy throws a bad ball. Make that make sense."

Mitchell then closed by saying that he didn't appreciate when his or other players' character is called into question.

"And at first you're taking our money, but now I got (expletive) like Matt Hasselbeck calling me a dirty player and trying my character and we've never met before. I donate more money to Cincinnati underprivileged kids than probably people on the Bengals. So don't give me that name. My nephew (goes) to school there. I take all that personally. If you don't know me, if you've never had a conversation with me don't judge us because football is my competitive side, you know what I'm saying?

"There's just so much going on in the game right now, yes, obviously I'm a little flustered but we just got to do better. We got to do better. I said it yesterday. We got to do better as players when we sign the next CBA. We got to get better leadership as who's running the league because obviously everybody from fans to owners, players are all disappointed in Roger Goodell. We just got to do better. We can't have a guy where you just hand out discipline on how you see fit.

"There needs to be a set guideline of how we do what we do. There's no way where I see two people get post-play penalties, post-play infractions that don't have to do with football and you get the same suspension as a guy that is making a football play in a football game. It's absolutely absurd, but like I said man, Steelers vs. the world.”

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