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

  • 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.

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Steelers-Bengals Monday Night Football gets ugly
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Steelers-Bengals Monday Night Football gets ugly
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04: JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stands over Vontaze Burfict #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals after a hit during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04: JuJu Smith-Schuster #19 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stands over Vontaze Burfict #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals after a hit during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04: Vontaze Burfict #55 of the Cincinnati Bengals is attended to by trainers after a unsportsmanlike penalty against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04: Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) reacts during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals on December 4th, 2017 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Dec 4, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) catches the game tying touchdown against Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (27) and is hit as a penalty of unnecessary roughness is called on free safety George Iloka (right) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches a touchdown pass as he is hit by George Iloka #43 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04: Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (50) (bottom) injures his back during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals on December 4th, 2017 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04: Ryan Shazier #50 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts as he is carted off the field after a injury against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04: Ryan Shazier #50 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts as he is carted off the field after a injury against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium on December 4, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
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"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."

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NFL teams that still have a shot to make the playoffs after Week 12
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NFL teams that still have a shot to make the playoffs after Week 12

Chicago Bears

Chances of making playoffs: <1%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Denver Broncos

Chances of making playoffs: <1%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Indianapolis Colts

Chances of making playoffs: <1%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Chances of making playoffs: <1%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
New York Jets

Chances of making playoffs: <1%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Miami Dolphins

Chances of making playoffs: 1%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)
Arizona Cardinals

Chances of making playoffs: 2%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Houston Texans

Chances of making playoffs: 2%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys

Chances of making playoffs: 3%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Washington Redskins

Chances of making playoffs: 3%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers

Chances of making playoffs: 5%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals

Chances of making playoffs: 8%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Oakland Raiders

Chances of making playoffs: 10%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Detroit Lions

Chances of making playoffs: 23%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
San Diego Chargers

Chances of making playoffs: 26%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Buffalo Bills

Chances of making playoffs: 31%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: <1%

(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Seattle Seahawks

Chances of making playoffs: 60%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 3%

(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons

Chances of making playoffs: 66%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 5%

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Baltimore Ravens

Chances of making playoffs: 69%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 1%

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Carolina Panthers

Chances of making playoffs: 73%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 3%

(Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs

Chances of making playoffs: 79%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 3%

(Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Rams

Chances of making playoffs: 80%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 3%

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Tennessee Titans

Chances of making playoffs: 82%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 1%

(Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints

Chances of making playoffs: 87%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 6%

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Jacksonville Jaguars

Chances of making playoffs: 91%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 2%

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Minnesota Vikings

Chances of making playoffs: 98%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 12%

(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers

Chances of making playoffs: >99%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 14%

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Philadelphia Eagles

Chances of making playoffs: >99%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 17%

(Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

New England Patriots

Chances of making playoffs: >99%
Chances of winning Super Bowl: 28%

(Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

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