The ruling of a one-game suspension for Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and Bengals safety George Iloka sparked a thoughtful twitter barrage from Steelers safety Mike Mitchell, who is tired of the inconsistencies with the NFL rulings.
Mitchell, who did not play in Monday's game but has plenty of experience with AFC North football, cited Rob Gronkowski's hit that earned a one-game suspension as far more egregious than the Steelers-Bengals culprits making a "football play."
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.— Mike Mitchell (@iammikemitchell) December 5, 2017
I'm teaming with Jerry jones Roger has to go! #MakeFootballFootballAgain— Mike Mitchell (@iammikemitchell) December 5, 2017
Smith-Schuster, the rookie who's earned positive marks in his own locker room for his physical blocking, put a fourth-quarter hit on linebacker Vontaze Burfict that left the player "at risk of serious injury and could have been avoided," NFL vice president of football operations Jon Runyan said in a statement.
Smith-Schuster blocked for Le'Veon Bell in the open field and then stood over Burfict after the hit, which Runyan said fell below standards expected of an NFL player. Later in the fourth, Iloka's helmet shot on Antonio Brown in the end zone was the kind of flagrant play the NFL is trying to eliminate, Runyan noted.
Mitchell disagreed with those assessments in a follow-up tweet:
SteelerNation @George_iloka is a good friend. Weve 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— Mike Mitchell (@iammikemitchell) December 5, 2017
Smith-Schuster has another fan of his blocking: Brown, who called Burfict's shot to the turf "karma."
The NFL won't have this problem most weeks. Bengals-Steelers in prime time promotes a special blend of helmet-flinging. But players will continue to close watching the league's potential discrepancies in player-safety discipline.