Plenty of people aren’t happy with the mixed signals being sent by the league office regarding the conduct that will or won’t result in a suspension. Steelers safety Mike Mitchell is among the frustrated, and he vented loudly on Wednesday regarding the situation.
“At the end of the day this is foot. Ball,” Mitchell said in a video posted by Mark Kaboly of TheAlthetic.com. “You wanna see flag football, then let’s take our pads off. That would make it easier for me. Because now I don’t gotta wear heavy sh-t. 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 gotta ask a guy, ‘Hey, are you ready for me to hit you right now?’ before I hit you.”
Mitchell pointed out that some of the illegal hits result from quarterbacks throwing an inaccurate pass that forces a receiver to dive, resulting in the player being hit in the head. He said that a $50,000 fine from two years ago resulted from Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton throwing a “bad ball” to tight end Tyler Eifert. (It was actually a $23,000 fine, but the video proves his point.)
“I got a–holes like Matt Hasselbeck calling me a dirty player and trying my character and we’ve never met before,” Mitchell said, while also throwing some criticism at Commissioner Roger Goodell, for failing to ensure consistency and clarity regarding the consequences for illegal hits.
And that’s really the problem with the entire process. It seems to be more about P.R. than precedent, and it’s important that the league have a system that makes clear what will and what won’t result in significant consequences. Without it, players won’t know where the line is between a fine and a suspension.