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.”
Bills’ Matt Milano Out for Season
Milano, 24, was a standout for the Bills’ defense during their upset victory over the Minnesota Vikings which earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Milano’s spot on the roster is likely to be filled by Deon Lacey.
Raiders Fire Reggie McKenzie
The Oakland Raiders have fired general manager Reggie McKenzie, according to NFL Network insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden dodged questions regarding McKenzie’s job status following Sunday’s game;
“I don’t have any comment on that,” Gruden said, according to Michael Gehlken of the Review-Journal. “We’re going to build this team back. I know that. We’re going to bring the Raiders back.”
Raiders’ Jon Feliciano Done For Season
The Oakland Raiders will be without left guard Jon Feliciano who suffered a calk injury that will likely shut him down for the remainder of the season, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Michael Gehlken.
Feliciano suffered the injury during Oakland’s surprise win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.
Feliciano, 26, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and is a strong candidate to be re-signed by the rebuilding Raiders.
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