nfl news today: Mike Mitchell blasts Roger Goodell and the NFL: ‘This isn’t football’
Mike Mitchell was livid Wednesday afternoon, and that was before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell agreed to a new contract. Wonder how entertaining his interview after practice might have been if he had known that.
Still, the outspoken safety had plenty to say on the state of football in America after a violent weekend that jolted the sport. Mitchell started by channeling Pro Football Hall of Famer Jack Lambert, who famously said “they’ll be putting skirts on quarterbacks next” when the NFL made rules changes to protect quarterbacks in 1980.
Plenty more rules have been instituted in the past 37 years, and Mitchell is disgusted by it. He has a suggestion for the league.
“Just hand us all some flags and let us go out there and grab the flags off because we’re not playing football,” Mitchell said. “This is not [darn] football. When I was 6 years old watching Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Sean Taylor, the hitters, Jack Tatum. … That’s football. This isn’t football.
“You have to know what the risks are when you sign up. No one wants to be paralyzed and no one wants to have head injuries. These are all things that are negative. But let’s not try to [label] football a dangerous or barbaric game. This is how I’ve changed my family legacy. Before I got drafted I had $368 in my bank account. That’s far from the case today. I changed my family legacy by this beautiful game of football forever. Let’s not try to turn it into some evil, dirty game. It’s football. It’s no different from UFC fighting.
“This is a combat, contact sport. There are going to be injuries. That’s just what it is. If you don’t want to get injured then 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. This is a man’s game. I stand by that. If you’re a little kid and don’t want to get your [butt] hit then don’t come out here because this is for grown men. Straight like that.”
Steelers fans are upset with the NFL suspending receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for a game for a hit he delivered on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Mitchell was just as upset, if not more, about the league’s treatment of Bengals safety George Iloka, who was suspended for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers receiver Antonio Brown. Iloka had his suspension rescinded Wednesday, but he still has to pay a $36,000 fine.
“I was talking to George after the game because he is one of my dear friends,” Mitchell said. “I felt like I had to defend him. We are physical safeties. Think of what you ask us to do. We’re always the last line of defense. We’re always making bang-bang plays. You never see us getting to line someone up in the hole like a linebacker.
“We’re playing full-speed. We’re 4.4, 4.3 speed. Aim that. You go do that. You can’t. It’s just the risk of playing football. If the ball is in the air and a man jumps or 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 football. 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 [stuff]. 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 have to ask a guy ‘Hey are you ready for me to hit you now?’ That’s crazy. I’m going to mess around and get hurt because I’m trying to protect an offensive player because he’s running an over route? Darn it, your quarterback shouldn’t have thrown that ball messed up.
“That happened two years ago. Andy Dalton threw a ball two years ago to Tyler Eifert. [He] had to dive for it. I was aiming for his gut. But if he doesn’t dive he doesn’t get hit in the head. That’s $50,000 out of my pocket because Andy throws a bad ball. Make that make sense.”
Mitchell also had a few choice words for ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who apparently questioned Mitchell’s style of play.
“Now I got ***holes like Matt Hasselbeck calling me a dirty player and trying my character, and we’ve never met before,” Mitchell said. “I donate more money to Cincinnati and underprivileged kids than probably people on the Bengals, so don’t give me that name. My nephew goes to school there. I take all that personally. If you don’t know me don’t judge me from football because football is my competitive side.”
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