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- 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.
So gronk elbow drops a guy off the top rope like Dusty Rhodes and gets same suspension as a guy getting a penalty making a football play. Okay cool @NFL@espn@ESPNNFL can’t wait to see what you come up with next.
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.