Steelers safeties Mike Mitchell and Troy Polamalu were flagged for unnecessary roughness for hits on receivers on the same drive in last Thursday’s game against the Ravens, but both men say they haven’t been fined for the hits.
The penalties were costly enough to the team as they helped put the Ravens in position for a touchdown that made the score 17-6 in the third quarter of the game. Mitchell protested his flag, saying Steve Smith ducked into what was lined up as a legal hit in an argument that the NFL may have agreed with when determining penalties for the week.
Mitchell is no stranger to being fined after racking up $40,000 in penalties from the league with the Panthers last season and said that he understands that officials have a tough job making those determinations on the fly because of the chance that they’ll be downgraded by the league for not throwing a flag. As a result, Mitchell says he’ll take it out of their hands in the future.
“Obviously in aiming for the waist they’re going to give guys that ability to duck. Now I have to hit you in the legs because there’s no way you can duck and meet him in the head if I am aiming for the knee,” Mitchell said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s just terrible that it has to come to that because I am a Christian guy. I play the game because I love it and it has served my family a good living. I don’t want to hurt anyone, and that’s a very dangerous place to hit a guy especially if he’s not looking, but I can’t continue to donate $20,000 to the NFL’s charity because I get repeatedly fined. So that’s what I have to do, I have to aim my target for the legs, that way they cannot duck into it.”
It’s not the first time we’ve heard a defensive player say he’d aim for the knees in order to avoid fines and penalties and probably won’t be the last since there’s no sign the league will roll back the changes made in the name of increased player safety.