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Steelers safety Mike Mitchell blasts Roger Goodell for giving Rob Gronkowski same suspension as JuJu Smith-Schuster

Alex Reimer
December 07, 2017 - 10:50 am

The Steelers are not happy wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster received the same suspension for laying out Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict as Rob Gronkowski did for his late cheap shot on Bills corner Tre’Davious White. 

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said the punishments “aren’t fair.” Steelers safety Mike Mitchell took his criticisms further Wednesday, blasting commissioner Roger Goodell for the NFL’s disciplinary practices. News broke about Goodell’s new $200 million contract extension shortly before Mitchell’s rant. 

Mitchell also defended Bengals safety George Iloka, who was suspended one game for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. The league has overturned Iloka’s punishment on appeal, however.

“I’m gonna mess around and get hurt trying to protect an offensive player because he’s running an over route,” Mitchell said, per Deadspin. “Dammit, your quarterback shouldn’t have threw that ball messed up. That happened two years ago. I’m not joking at all. Andy Dalton threw a ball to Tyler Eifert two years ago. Tyler Eifert had to dive for it. I was aiming for his gut, but if he don’t dive, he don’t get hit in the head. That’s 50 grand out of my pocket though, because Andy throws a bad ball. Make that make sense. And at first you’re taking our money, but now I got assholes like Matt Hasselbeck calling me a dirty player and trying my character, and we never met before.”

Earlier in the week, Mitchell specifically called out Gronkowski on Twitter. “SteelerNation @George_iloka is a good friend. We’ve spent many summers training together. HES NOT A DIRTY PLAYER. He’s a Standup guy just a hard nosed no bs player. In no way was he tryna hurt AB just like I know @TeamJuJu wasn’t trying to hurt #55. Football is violent! #Facts,” he tweeted. “19/43 were making a football plays in football games during the PLAY more specifically before the whistle.87s play was a downed man post whistle. I get the league having player safety that’s fine but don’t tell me those are the same offense.”

One game seems to be the barometer suspension for head shots, regardless of whether they occur during a play or after the whistle. Danny Trevathan, Mike Evans, Aqib Talib, Michael Crabtree and Smith-Schuster have all received one-game bans this season for various head shots. (Trevathan, Talib and Crabtree had their two-game suspensions knocked down on appeal.) 

While Mitchell can quibble about the league equating Gronkowski’s late hit to Smith-Schuster’s block, this is one area in which the NFL’s discipline actually appears to be rather consistent.

It’s also worth noting that Mitchell isn’t exactly a pillar of clean play himself. The hard-hitting safety twisted running back Charcadrick West’s ankle at the end of a play two weeks ago and went after Alex Smith’s legs.  

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