Steelers safety Mike Mitchell gave an impassioned rant about the NFL's punishment policies


Mike MitchellJustin K. Aller/Getty Images

  • Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell is furious
    with the way the NFL has handled a recent string of player
    suspensions.
  • Mitchell’s teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster and the
    New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski received equal
    suspensions for decidedly different plays, with Smith-Schuster
    making a block in-game and Gronkowski diving onto a player’s
    back after the whistle.
  • In a passionate rant, Mitchell criticized the league,
    its leadership, and the media for their portrayal of him as a
    “dirty player.”

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell voiced his displeasure
with the NFL’s inconsistency with regard to punishing players for
hits.

His comments came in the wake of Week 13 during which
numerous penalties and suspensions were handed out, including one
to Mitchell’s teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was
suspended one game for his hit on Vontaze Burfict. Mitchell was
displeased that Smith-Schuster’s punishment for making what
was ostensibly a football play was given an equal suspension to
Rob Gronkowski, who dove at Bills cornerback
Tre’Davious White after a play was dead and sent White into
concussion protocol
.

Mitchell’s frustrations didn’t stop there. Speaking with
reporters on Wednesday, Mitchell delivered a long monologue on
his problems with the league as it stands, from the overabundance
of flags thrown to the leadership of the league and the player’s
union to criticism from television analysts.

You can see the video below.

“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 have
to wear heavy s—. Give us flags for me to pull off so that way
I know what we are playing,” Mitchell said.

“I signed up to play full-speed, contact football, and
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 also discussed a fine he received two years ago
for a hit on the Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert,
claiming that the only reason the hit on Eifert was illegal was
because he had to dive to catch a poorly thrown ball from
quarterback Andy Dalton. Mitchell explained how he felt that both
the punishment and the fallout from the media after the play was
unfair to him.

“That’s $50,000 out of my pocket because Andy [Dalton] throws a bad ball. Make that make sense,” Mitchell said.

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.”

After taking a breath and noting that he was a bit
flustered, Mitchell finished his speech, refocusing on the
inconsistencies of punishments and pushing for better negotiating
on the part of the players heading into the next CBA.

“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.”

You can watch Mitchell’s comments below.

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