The Steelers flashiest free agent acquisition this off-season, safety Mike Mitchell, has one particular trait that would have helped him fit right into the Steelers defense 5 years ago. He has been fined, many times, and has been vocal in his displeasure over it..
Since 2010 Mitchell has been fined 10 times by the league. Last year, whilst still with the Panthers, Mitchell was fined for taunting, which lead him to lash out against Commissioner Goodell claiming he was being targeted because he played physical football.
That sort of attitude wouldn't go amiss with former safety Ryan Clark and linebacker James Harrison, the latter perhaps being Goodell's most ardent and famous critic.
However, as described by ESPN's Scott Brown, Mitchell has changed his outlook toward Goodell and the stringent enforcement of player safety. Mitchell said after OTA's today that he does not believe the NFL or Goodell is out to get him, and that he is adapting his game to fit the new NFL.
"I've adjusted to the new rules changes and just look forward to playing clean football and not getting fined this year...at the end of the day, they're just trying to crack down on the rules, and I've adjusted my game to fit within those rules"
Although big, bone-crunching hits are always exciting, the fact Mitchell is tailoring his game to comply with the NFL's strict player safety rules is good news for the Steelers.
There is nothing more infuriating than a player being flagged for an illegal hit. It costs him money, and costs the team effort, yards and occasionally points.
Mitchell had one more point to make concerning big hits, or rather how he would rather not have to make them at all.
"I want to get the football, if you take the ball away and give it to a quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger, you're mostly likely going to win those games. I'll hit you if I'm late, but I don't want to be late. I want to take the football away and give it back to my offense."
Even though it's still May, it's good to hear Mitchell saying all the right things, and more specifically signalling his intent to be a ball hawk, something the Steelers defense could really use heading into the 2014 season.