Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell has had enough with the officiating job done by NFL officials this season suggesting that officials ‘Just hand us all some flags’ in an emotional rant about the league’s stringent policy on hits.
Mitchell was referencing the suspension handed down to teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster, holding nothing back in his verbal assault.
“Just hand us all some flags” Mitchell said (h/t ESPN).
“Hand us all some flags, and we’ll go out there and try to grab the flags off. Because we’re not playing football,” said Mitchell on Wednesday from his locker. “This is not damn football. When I was 6 years old watching Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Sean Taylor, the hitters, Jack Tatum. That’s football. This ain’t football. You have to know the risk 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 turn football into a dangerous, barbaric game.
“This is how I changed my family legacy. Before I got drafted, I had $368 to my bank account. That is far from the case today. I’ve changed my family legacy by this beautiful game of football forever. So let’s not try to turn this into some evil, dirty game. It’s football. It’s no different than UFC fighting. This a combat, contact sport. There’s gonna be injuries. That’s just what it is. But if you don’t want to get injured, don’t come out here. This is for real men. This is a man’s game. Ray Lewis said that a couple of years ago, and I stand by that. It’s a man’s game. If you don’t want to be a little kid and get your ass hit, don’t come out here. This is for grown men. Straight like that.”
The league doled out suspensions for Smith-Schuster for his open-field block on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict, which came with a taunt, and Bengals safety George Illoka for his end-zone helmet hit delivered to Steelers’ wide out Antonio Brown.
League official Troy Vincent said that the NFL might adopt college football’s targeting rule that ejects players for egregious hits.
“We are physical safeties. Think about what you ask us to do,” Mitchell said. “We’re always the last line of defense on bang-bang plays. You never get to see us line somebody up in a hole like a linebacker. We’re playing full speed. He’s 4.4-4.3 speed. Aim that. You go do that. You can’t. It’s just the risk of playing football. If a ball is in the air and the man jumps and 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. Now, I don’t have to wear heavy s—. Give us flags for me to pull off so that way I know what we are playing. I signed up to play full-speed, contact football. We’re not doing that. I feel like I’ve got to ask a guy, ‘Hey, are you ready for me to hit you right now before I hit you? 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. Dammit, your quarterback shouldn’t have thrown the ball messed up.”
Mitchell said that happened two years ago on his hit on Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, which resulted in a hefty fine from the league.
Mitchell also received a $48,000 fine for a Week 6 hit on Chiefs running back Charcandrick West, though he appealed, and made headlines for what many perceived as a dirty hit on Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
“That’s 50 grand out of my pocket because Andy [Dalton] throws a bad ball. Make that make sense,” said Mitchell of the 2015 play. “And at first you’re taking our money but now I’ve got a-holes like Matt Hasselbeck calling me a dirty player and trying my character and we’ve never met before. I donate more money to Cincinnati to underprivileged kids than probably the people on the Bengals. So don’t give me that name. My nephew goes to school there and I take all that personally. If you don’t know me and you’ve never had a conversation with me, don’t judge us on what you see in football, because football’s my competitive side. You know what I’m saying? There’s just so much going on in the game right now.
Mitchell slowed down his rant, then pointed out he was obviously “a little flustered” and asked for commissioner Roger Goodell to do better.
“Fans, owners, players are all disappointed in Roger Goodell. We’ve just got to do better,” Mitchell said. “We can’t have a guy where you just hand out discipline how you see fit. There needs to be a set guideline on how we do what we do. There’s no way I see two people get post-play infractions that don’t have to do with football and you get the same suspension as the guy who’s making a football play in a football game. It’s absolutely absurd. But like I said, it’s Steelers vs the world.”
Broncos’ John Elway Closes Door on Colin Kaepernick
While the Denver Broncos will be in the market for a backup quarterback, team president John Elway shut the door on the possibility that the team would entertain signing free agent signal caller Colin Kaepernick, although it has nothing to do with protests.
Elway spoke to reporters on Thursday and officially nixed the idea of the team bringing in the former San Francisco 49ers start quarterback.
“He had a chance to be here, he passed on it,” Elway said, according to USA Today’s Lindsay Jones.
Elway is referring to a nixed deal the the Broncos and 49ers had in place that would have seen Kaepernick in Denver back in 2016, but Kaepernick killed the deal by refusing to trim $5 million from his cap number and take additional pay cuts down the road.
Browns’ Josh Gordon Did Not Fail Drug Test
Despite some pubic concerns, Cleveland Browns’ wide receiver Josh Gordon did not fail a drug test this offseason and no suspension is anticipated once Gordon makes his return, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot.
Gordon is currently in Florida where he is working on his physical and mental health and there are no assurances that the wideout will be available when the Browns take the field for Week 1 of the 2018 regular season.
Amid reports of interest in former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, the Browns remain in contact with Gordon, who will need approval from his NFL-sanctioned medical team before returning. and they plan to stick with him throughout his recovery.
Raiders Place Ahtyba Rubin on Injured Reserve
The Oakland Raiders have placed defensive lineman Ahtyba Rubin on injured reserve due to a torn biceps that he suffered during the team’s join practice with the Detroit Lions last week, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Michael Gehlken.
Rubin was entering the final year of a three-year, $12M contract with the Seattle Seahawks back in 2017 but was cut in September. He lated signed on with the Denver Broncos who cut him only two games later.
Rubin later latched on with the Atlanta Falcons where he appeared in 10 games in a reserve role.
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