NFL null null null null
After the Monday night combat between Bengals and Steelers players resulted in 239 penalty yards, three unnecessary roughness calls, one unsportsmanlike conduct call and at least five players exiting the game with injuries, it was fairly apparent that showcasing the bitterness that exists between these two teams might not be the best strategy for advancing the NFL’s image. It certainly wasn't best for the players involved. That includes not only those players injured by overzealous play, bu
After the Monday night combat between Bengals and Steelers players resulted in 239 penalty yards, three unnecessary roughness calls, one unsportsmanlike conduct call and at least five players exiting the game with injuries, it was fairly apparent that showcasing the bitterness that exists between these two teams might not be the best strategy for advancing the NFL’s image.
It certainly wasn't best for the players involved.
That includes not only those players injured by overzealous play, bu
Specifically: Had Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster lit up Vontaze Burfict with an illegal block on Sunday at 3:25 p.m., with six or eight other games going at the same time, or had Bengals safety George Iloka gone helmet-to-helmet with Antonio Brown in the end zone of such a game, would either have earned a one-game suspension from the league?
IYER: Steelers-Bengals a Monday nightmare
Sunday toward the end of an early afternoon laugher between the Patriots and Bills, star tight end Rob Gronkowski grew frustrated by what he considered to be uncalled holding and directed his anger at Bills rookie defensive back Tre’Davious White. At the time, White was flat on his stomach, just beginning to rise from the ground. Gronkowski came in long after the play had been whistled dead, leaped forward with his full body weight and drove his left elbow into White’s helmet. From behind.
For this, Gronkowski also was delivered a one-game suspension.
So, from this equivalence, we are to surmise what?
That being a well-known player who makes cute TV commercials means the league office will go light on you?
That engaging in heinous behavior is OK so long as you are, as Gronkowski expressed following the game, "frustrated"?
Or that it’s much better to shred the rulebook when you’re not playing in a showcase game?
Because as disturbing as the hits by Smith-Schuster and Iloka were, they were maybe a 7.8 on the WTF meter compared to Gronk going Shane Stant on White and scoring a 9.9. That the NFL would attempt to put Monday's events in the same category is the worst piece of league-office maneuvering we've seen since "Thursday Night Football" was invented.
MORE: Most hated NFL players of all time
This is a quote from the NFL's football operations VP, Jon Runyan, to Gronkowski: "Your actions were not incidental, could have been avoided and placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury."
This is from Runyan to Smith-Schuster: "You lined up a defender and delivered an unnecessary blindside shot to his head and neck area."
This is from Runyan to Iloka: "You violently struck a defenseless receiver in the head and neck area."
My goodness: Gronkowski didn't even get yelled at as much.
There had been some discussion prior to Gronkowski’s suspension that he might get away without missing time because he hadn't much history of in-game misconduct. He hadn't been called for a personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct since 2014. But Smith-Schuster has no history, period. He's been in the league 13 weeks.
WEEK 14 NFL PICKS:
Against the spread | Straight up
This is what happens when leagues try to mitigate misconduct punishments in order to limit the competitive damage to teams. If you set the standard of a one-game suspension at the Gronk-on-White level, then only those offenses that rise — or, more appropriately, sink — to that level merit such a punishment. Nothing that happened Monday even approached the border of Gronkowski's misbehavior.
What Smith-Schuster and Iloka did Monday night was bad for football, and certainly for those on the receiving end of their hits. Each of those blows, however, was delivered during live action in a violent sport. The "defenseless" players who were struck were at least in the act of playing football and had the reasonable expectation they would be contacted in the near future.
White was not playing when Gronkowski plowed into him from behind. White was commencing the act of departing the field following a change in possession that resulted from his interception. The only contact he had reason to expect was maybe a hand up from a teammate.
What he got instead was a concussion.
And, in the end, no justice.