Steelers safety Mike Mitchell rips officiating: 'Just hand us all some flags'

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"This is a combat, contact sport", Mitchell said, according to the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette.

Mitchell was the most vocal among Steelers players who voiced displeasure with the league Wednesday after rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster's one-game suspension was upheld on appeal, but Cincinnati Bengals free safety George Iloka's was rescinded and reduced to a $36,000 fine. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was suspended for one game after an egregiously late hit on Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White.

"Hand us all some flags and we'll go out there and try to grab the flags off", Mitchell said in the aftermath of Monday night's violent Steelers-Bengals clash that produced more than 200 yards in penalties and two players stretchered off the field.

No one has to turn football into a risky game.

The league has notably taken precautions in recent years to help protect their players, however, the rules are mostly favored for those on offense. "Think about what you ask us to do", Mitchell said.

"We've got men playing football, a game of football with a helmet and shoulder pads on, and we have told guys 'you have to give him a chance, and he has to be able to make a football move".

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"Just hand us all some flags", Mitchell said, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler. If you don't know me and you've never had a conversation with me, don't judge us on what you see in football, because football's my competitive side. "That would make it easier for me, cause then I don't have to wear heavy (expletive)". We gotta get better leadership as who's running the league, because obviously everybody from fans, owners, players are all disappointed in Roger Goodell.We can't have a guy where you just hand out discipline on how you see fit.

"I got a-holes like Matt Hasselbeck calling me a dirty player and trying my character and we've never met before".

"We gotta do better as players when we sign the next CBA. Make that make sense", said Mitchell of the 2015 play.

Earlier in the week, Mitchell specifically called out Gronkowski on Twitter. "I donate more money to Cincinnati underprivileged kids than, probably, the people on the Bengals". "There's just so much going on in the game right now".

The Steelers' current NFLPA rep, left guard Ramon Foster, said that if players want to see changes in Goodell's power over player discipline, they're going to have to be willing to sacrifice for it with a players strike. "There needs to be a set guideline on how we do what we do". "And I guess (Iloka's suspension) got overturned because AB got up and scored a touchdown?"

"It's the stupidest thing in the world", center Maurkice Pouncey said.