Yesterday, about the time I posted the post, word came down that Gronk was suspended for one game. Kind of figured that would be it, okay. Brady is good enough to not have him and still win. He’ll be back just in time to be ticked off when they play the Steelers in Week 15.
But, the game last night pitting the Steelers against our hated rivals the Cincinnati Bengals (or Bungles as I call them) was a doozie. First, in a freak accident and not really any one’s fault, Ryan Shazier, the Steelers defensive leader jammed his neck making a tackle (from behind) and ended up with a spinal “contusion.” They carted him off the field and took him, by ambulance, to the hospital. He’s still there today and probably until tomorrow as they are doing more tests and evaluating him.
The Steelers and Bungles have a violent past, especially recently, and especially because of Vontaze Burfict. He’s a dirty player on the level of Ndamukong Suh. The Bungles also have Adam “Pacman” Jones who is at times a dirty player. He’s certainly an instigator. During the playoffs in 2015, Burfict took aim at Steelers star receiver Antonio Brown and put him out of the game. It was malicious and intended. Burfict was then suspended for the first three games of 2016. That just adds to the dangerous mystique of the rivalry.
Last night, when Le’Veon Bell was catching a pass and making a Steelers first down, Steelers rookie sensation Juju Smith-Shuster made a peelback block (where the player goes back toward his own end zone and makes a blindside block on a “defenseless” defensive player – I know there’s a better definition of that, but that’s what I got) on Burfict and it nearly knocked him out. Okay, so, I have to admit a part of me thought that was pretty bad-arsed. But, truly, I don’t want anyone hurt like that. The worst part of it wasn’t that he made the hit. The worst part was afterward when he stepped over Burfict, straddled him and looked at him like he’d just proven a point. That’s called taunting and is not good. Any other time I’d probably be okay with it, but this is after Shazier went down and the whole team was down and jittery. Good block but unnecessarily violent and absolutely ridiculous on the taunt. Now, I admire and am fond of the fire the kid has but you could really tell, by the look on his face, that he felt bad for it afterward. But, in the moment? Nah.
Later in the game, as Antonio Brown made his tie-setting TD catch, Bungles DB George Iloka squares up and delivers a helmet-to-helmet shot to Brown but Brown held on. The Steelers went on to win the game 23-20, staying atop the playoff picture leading into two important games. The Ratbirds (Ravens) come to town next week (when both Gronk and Juju are both suspended) and then the Patriots come in the following week. So, it’s important the guys in black and yellow keep their heads and buckle down! Hopefully, Ryan Shazier isn’t lost for the rest of the season. Really, as much as I don’t like a lot of teams and players, I don’t want them hurt like that, especially not from a Steeler’s moment of mental weakness. So, all of you stop making stupid mistakes and just play the game. Be safe, y’all! Thanks for indulging my sports rants two days in a row!
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“You are suspended for the dangerous and unsportsmanlike acts you committed during the fourth quarter of last night’s game. Specifically, with 7:10 remaining, on a passing play to a running back, you lined up a defender and delivered a violent and unnecessary blindside shot to his head and neck area. You then ‘celebrated’ the play by standing over him and taunting him. The contact you made with your opponent placed the opposing player at risk of serious injury and could have been avoided. Your conduct following the hit fell far below the high standards of sportsmanship expected of an NFL player.” – Jon Runyan, NFL Vice President of Football Operations to Juju Smith-Shuster