Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

NFL Football Still Has Its Essence- Violence

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

NFL Football Still Has Its Essence- Violence

Article excerpt

Dear old-school zealots, did you not watch the games last weekend?

Did you not see the Atlanta Falcons administer a tackling clinic in stifling the highest-scoring offense in the league?

You can still play great defense.

Did you not see Cam Newton splattered all over the Superdome turf and Dante Fowler Jr. slam Tyrod Taylor's head so hard into the EverBank Field grass that he sent him straight into concussion protocol?

You can still crush quarterbacks.

Did you not see Travis Kelce absorb a skull shot so vicious it left him wobbling like a dazed boxer?

You can still hammer receivers.

None of the plays above was penalized, by the way. None should have been. It's football. It's the NFL. A lot of us fell in love with it in part for the violence, and the violence remains.

The essence of the sport is fully intact, no matter what Steelers safety Mike Mitchell, retired Steelers linebacker Greg Lloyd or anybody else might tell you. The alleged softening of the game is a myth.

Lloyd and Mitchell offered the most incendiary quotes in a compelling Tyler Dunne piece on Bleacher Report, although we already knew Mitchell's feelings from his early December sermon on the subject.

"Hand us all some flags and let us go out there and try to grab the flags off them, because we're not playing football," Mitchell said then, echoing the words of dozens before him, from Jack Lambert to Brian Urlacher to Ryan Clark. "I signed up to play full-speed contact football, and we're not doing that. I feel like I got to ask a guy 'Hey, are you ready for me to hit you right now before I hit you?' That's just crazy."

The names change. The complaints don't. I respect Mitchell, but please keep in mind: He plays defense! I remember James Harrison threatening to retire, Clark lamenting "basketball in shoulder pads" and Troy Polamalu saying "football loses so much of its essence when it becomes like a pansy league."

It's funny how offensive players are rarely quoted on this topic. Does it look to you like Antonio Brown roams freely through secondaries with no fear of contact?

Looks to me like he takes a hellacious beating every time out. He probably wishes George Iloka and others would stop and ask if he's ready for the hit.

I asked Martavis Bryant a few weeks back if he feels like it's a breeze out there.

"It's a physical game," Bryant said. …

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