It seems that someone or something is out to make sure the Steelers have to fight to stay on top this season. Not only do we have several key players out due to injuries, but Goodell and the officials seem determined to make us work for every yard we gain. I have read several blogs and multiple articles with fans and pundits blasting the NFL for "making an example" of the Steelers. Unfortunately, I think the Steelers may have brought this on themselves.
For years, the Steelers have been well-known throughout the NFL for their hard hitting, very physical style of football. We may no longer have Mean Joe Green, but his spirit lives on through players like Harrison, Troy, and Farrior. So when the NFL decides to crack down on the big hitters, where else are they going to turn? They immediately look to the Pittsburgh Steelersdefense! I can't say I blame them. The black and gold defense seems to truly enjoy helping the opposing offense get a taste of the Heinz Field turf. The Steel Curtain has been known as one of the toughest and most physical defenses in the league for decades. Until this season, though, we were never considered to be "dirty" players. How is it that suddenly James Harrison goes from defensive MVP to "dirtiest defenseman in the league" when his style of play has not changed at all since last season?
I'm surprised that Baltimore isn't having the same problems we are. They rank right up there with the Steelers when it comes to physical, hard-hitting football. Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewisare well-known for smearing opposing players. NFL network recently aired a special highlighting the top 10 most feared defensemen of all time. Ray Lewis made the top 5. When the NFL turned it's attention to cracking down on big hits, I knew the Steelers were in trouble. It was inevitable. My only consolation was knowing that if the officials were going to starting throwing flags at us left and right, then the Ravens were going to be getting a few yellow deliveries as well.
I'm not saying that the excessive amount of penalties and attention the Steelers are getting is ok. Far from it. I agree that helmet to helmet hits are dangerous. As someone who has had 3 concussions, I'm all for protects the players from permanent damage. What I don't agree with is the inconsistency in the penalties. Yes, every ref have their own interpretation of the rules. But if Goodell is going to make this such a huge issue, then he needs to gather up his refs, put them in front of a big TV, and watch a lot of film. He needs to make it very clear to them what is and is not an illegal hit. Making an example of the Steelers is only going to annoy the Steelers players, staff, and fans. It's obviously not going to change the way we play the game. But by calling foul on Harrison, and blatantly ignoring other huge hits and penalties, the officials are saying to the rest of the nfl teams and players, "Go ahead and light that QB up. We're a little busy over here fining Harrison and watching his every move."
I can't help but wonder... If we still had Joey Porter, how many fines would he have by now?