Former New York Giants pass rusher Osi Umenyiora saw what Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell said after the game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and he can’t believe it. Though he never called out Mitchell by name, he said he didn’t understand how players could be angry about the NFL’s efforts to eliminate head injuries.
“For them to come out and speak the way they’re speaking is just the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Umenyiora said, per Evan Grossman of the Daily News. “They’re out of their minds. There’s so much beauty and so much aggression and physical nature of the game without hitting people in their head. I don’t understand it.”
He does get why the fans like it. He just doesn’t know why the players would.
“I understand that, from the fans’ perspective. For people watching, I think human beings have a propensity to like violence,” he said. “You want the collisions, you want all those things. But from the players’ standpoint, I just don’t understand what they’re doing, what they’re talking about, because the evidence is there. You’re not supposed to hit anybody in the head. Nobody signed up for that. That’s not what the league is about, that’s not what the NFL has ever been about. So this whole ‘trying to take away my football,’ it’s nonsensical. People are dying. People are dying in very, very bad ways because of this head trauma. I don’t understand it. I’m looking at them saying are you out of your mind? What are you talking about?”
Mitchell’s comments echoed many of the very things Umenyiora is speaking out against.
“Just hand us all some flags,” Mitchell wrote, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “Hand us all some flags and we’ll go out there and try to grab the flags off. Because we’re not playing football. This is not damn football. When I was 6 years old watching Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, Sean Taylor, the hitters, Jack Tatum. That’s football. This ain’t football. You have to know the risk when you sign up. No one wants to be paralyzed. No one wants to have head injuries. These are all things that are negative. But let’s not try to turn football into a dangerous, barbaric game. This is how I changed my family legacy. Before I got drafted, I had $368 to my bank account. That is far from the case today. I’ve changed my family legacy by this beautiful game of football forever. So let’s not try to turn this into some evil, dirty game. It’s football. It’s no different than UFC fighting. This a combat, contact sport. There’s gonna be injuries. That’s just what it is. But if you don’t want to get injured, don’t come out here. This is for real men. This is a man’s game. Ray Lewis said that a couple of years ago, and I stand by that. It’s a man’s game. If you don’t want to be a little kid and get your ass hit, don’t come out here. This is a man’s game.”