The NFL Hates the Pittsburgh Steelers

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What was once a whisper of a conspiracy theory around the league last season, but screamed aloud across Steelers Nation, the NFL is targeting the Steelers unabashedly.  In fact, you might say that the NFL hates the Steelers – from the top down.

The Steelers organization has had amazing success over it’s existence.  In the more recent history of the NFL (1990 and onward) the Steelers have been in the playoffs 13 times, won their division 11 times, appeared in the Super Bowl 4 times, and won the Super Bowl twice.  Keep one interception and one fumble from happening and the Steelers could have been 4 for 4 in Super Bowls.  For the past 21 years, the Steelers have been nothing shy of dominating in their division over rival teams.  All the while, they play with a physical intensity that has gone unmatched – the Ravens come close.  The Steelers take on the persona of their town and fans – blue collar, hard working yinzers.  They have one of the largest fan bases over any other sport across the country.  Everywhere you go, you see Steelers attire and paraphernalia.  Any away game they play there are thousands upon thousands of Steelers Nation waving those Terrible Towels.  And the NFL HATES them for it.  Hates them for it ALL.

The NFL’s hatred has been brooding for a long time, waiting until the right moment, the right turning point in the game itself so that it can remove the vail masking that hatred.  The 2009 season began the huge push for player ‘safety.’  The league changed rules for hitting defenseless players – receivers, quarterbacks and even blockers.  This became the first shot heard ’round the world against the war on the Steelers.  Targeting mainly Hines Ward, the league outlawed hitting defenseless players who were either catching the ball or making a play on the ball.  Next league officials (outside of the zebras) began dishing out fines to players for dangerous and ‘illegal’ hits.  Now, the moment became ripe for the legue to take aim at one of the hardest hitting teams in the NFL – the Steelers.  And boy, did they ever take advantage.  James Harrison became the poster child for the ever subjectively defined ‘illegal’ hit.  When all was said and done, Harrison accumulated $100,000 in fines.  Harrison threatened to retire, and I’m sure the league was drooling over the prospect of that happening.

The Baltimore Ravens and Ravens fans became the beneficiaries of the league targeting the Steelers

But Craig, if Harrison was indeed hitting illegally, isn’t the league in the right by fining him?  Though some of his ‘illegal’ hits were a bit questionable, I would have to agree with that observation.  However, the league was very inconsistent with identifying illegal hits and dishing out appropriate fines.  Steelers like Ward, Clark and Polamalu spoke out against this inconsistency and were punished for it.  That punishment – the December 5th Sunday night game against the Baltimore Ravens.  The punishment came in the form of no call after no call against the Ravens.  Exhibit A:  Ben Roethlisberger’s broken nose from a shot to the face by defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.  No penalty and no fine.  Exhibit B: linebacker Jameel McClain’s hit on a defenseless Heath Miller.  Direct helmet to helmet, concussion sustained.  No penalty and the fine was reduced from 40k to 20k.  There were some other sketchy calls from the officials against the Steelers that game, but I don’t want to jump down the rabbit hole of suggesting that the league would directly influence officiating on the field during a game.  The two examples used here are ones that are plays reviewed and ruled on by league officials after the game.  The message sent to the Steelers from the league after week 13 – shut up.  I think the NFL even took pleasure in that beating.  The lead headline on NFL.com the following Monday was not – Heath Miller Sustained Concussion From Illegal Helmet to Helmet Hit.  It was, “Roethlisberger Bloodied.”  But thankfully, that didn’t stop the Steelers from using the week of the Super Bowl to continue to speak out on the league’s new beat down.

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  • Marie

    what do u expect from a bunch of liberals? This league is becoming “chichified”.

    • AJ Perko

      Except Roger Goodall is a staunch conservative…. idiot.

      • Marie

        Godell is NOT a conservative! Why, because his father was a republican senator from NY?? His father was NO conservative! And BTW, what makes you think he is a conservative??? Did he stand up for Rush Limbaugh? Rush never said what he was accussed of that slavery was a good thing..

    • Jack

      Like that made any sense, you fascist moron! This article is about the NFL and not politics, you baggers amaze me!! You all also never come up with anything new, it’s the same recycled, repeated rhetoric being said, just a different retard saying it….

  • Patrick Allen

    Really provocative article Craig.

    I think there are a few things at play here. I do not think the league “hates the Steelers.” There would be no reason for them to hate the Steelers. The Steelers are, far and away, their best franchise. Other than the Cowboys, I don’t think there is a team that is more recognizable than the Steelers.

    I think more what you are on to is that the league hates defense. The NFL has been moving away from the old style of football for a long time. A lot of casual fans like high scoring, exciting games. More hardcore fans or long time fans appreciate hard hitting, defensive battles. I love watching a good Steelers vs. Ravens game (I am a Chiefs fan to those reading who do not know me). Maybe that is because I grew up in north east Ohio watching Steelers vs. Browns and Steelers vs. Ravens. While not being a fan of those teams, that was the football I was exposed to and I enjoy it.

    There is something else at play here that I think needs to be mentioned and it is something that can’t be wiped away by calling the NFL a “bunch of liberals.” First of all, we should leave politics our of any discussion about the NFL. However, if you want to go down that road, there could not be a less liberal group of people than the NFL owners.

    No, what we are missing here is what happens to some of these players after the stop playing football. NFL players are 7 times more likely to develop dementia later in life. Many of them, when they die and have autopsies done, have extensive brain damage. Others find themselves nearly crippled at age 50 due to the tremendous beating they give their bodies in their relatively short careers.

    Yes, they are generally compensated well for their efforts. Yes, they know the risks when they step on the field. However, not every play in the NFL takes the same stance as Harrison. Just like anything else, there are shades of gray. Some of them likely worry about getting dementia or not being able to pick up their child after they retire. Some of them do want the game to be safer.

    Football is a barbaric sport. We sit and cheer it on and we all love it but that doesn’t mean we have to be stupid. We aren’t sitting in ancient Rome watching these guys get fed to the lions but if we allow some of these brutal hits to the head and neck to continue and then these guys lose there mind 20 years later, are we much different?

    The problem here,I think, is that the NFL is inconsistent in how they handle the implementation of these rules. Guys like Harrison have been playing the same way their entire life. Then suddenly they are asked to change the way they approach their tackles and are threatened with ridiculous fines when they slip up.

    The NFL needs to put more effort into making the game safer. They can’t just start throwing rules together and fining the crap out of everyone. I don’t think that is going to get the job done.

    I agree that these rule changes are tough on teams like the Steelers. There is no doubt about it. I think, however, the players are going to have to do their best to adapt. The Steelers have endured all kinds of rule changes and still have managed to play pretty stiffing defenses. Rule changes to how corners could cover receivers were implemented years ago and the Steelers still make life hard for QB’s and receivers.

    I think the Steelers and players like Harrison need to stop complaining and start working on adapting their game to continue their excellent play without breaking the rules too much because the reality of the situation is, there really isn’t much they can do about it.

    The Steelers can handle this. Just break the guy’s ribs now instead of his neck. =)

    • Craig

      Many may argue that I look at this too simplistically. But, if the NFL hates defense, then they might as well hate the organization that is the symbol and icon of defense – The Steelers.

      I think the Steelers and players have every right to complain about what the NFL is doing because it is changing key fundamentals of the game. They are trying to turn the game into loose canons for offenses with high scoring games. But because of this, they are being disingenuous to themselves, the game and fans. This isn’t arena football. This is the NFL. Seriously, the value of a touchdown and how significant a score is will become less exciting. During a 17-13 contest, a TD is HUGE – not so much during a 56-42 romp. It may be exciting at first for many fans, but it will get old having high scoring games. The only reason why they are exciting now is because they are a rarity.

      Look at the NBA again as an example. They’ve put so many rules in place to make it more about offense that if a team scores less than 100 points, it is seen as a bad game. NBA games are boring because the value of a basket is devalued until the final 5 minutes. That’s why the league HATED the Detroit Pistons when they won the championship in 2004 – they were a defensive minded team and scores were low.

      The NFL hates defense and therefore hates what the Steelers stand for. Steelers Nation recognizes that if you hate what the Steelers stand for, then you hate the team.

  • Todd

    On the one hand, I understand wanting to keep the game safe, but I think the NFL is missing the point.
    The game in inherently dangerous. Grown men running at each other at full speed is not a recipe for safety.
    Players go into the game knowing that injuries are part of the game. Hell, not just a part, they are major part. Everyone who has ever followed football can tell you the four levels of injury that players can be under (probable, questionable, doubtful and inactive).
    The bigger problem I have with this rule change is the subjective nature of hits. One man’s “flagrant” penalty is another man’s hard-nosed football play.
    As you pointed out so well, it seems like the Steelers are getting a majority of the calls and fines against them, while players on other teams (Hello, Haloti Ngata) can do just about anything short of shanking the Steelers in the shower room and not get so much as a illegal contact penalty.
    I guess the reason it is called the “Tom Brady” rule is because it is only a penalty if you hit Tom Brady in the helmet.
    We can only hope that the neutered version of the game will be as loathsome as Citizens of The Nation suspect it will be and that these rules changes will go away.
    Otherwise, when the game returns, it will be not be quite the same game.

    • Patrick Allen

      The NFL has got to be more consistent with handing out these fines. That is on their training of the refs. The officials will never be perfect but if they are going to hand out fines like Halloween candy then everyone should get what they deserve. I agree there.

    • Craig

      I had said in a Morning Cup a few days ago that if the NFL is really serious about player safety, that the money coming in from the fines should go back out to the community. Set up a committee that goes out to high schools, colleges and community football leagues and TEACHES what the NFL expects of these kids/young men when they enter the league. That is your only way to really make an effort to rid the game of these ‘illegal’ hits. Otherwise, it will just be a vicious cycle.

      • Patrick Allen

        I do believe the money goes to charities but I am not sure which ones.

        I never played football on any level but there are different rules, I assume, all the way through. How is it going to be something you can influence?

        • Craig

          Teaching how to tackle without leading with the helmet is something that can transcend through any level and league. Teach young football players about concussions and severe injuries caused by that. Encourage coaches to teach leading with the shoulder at a young age. I think those are all realistic things that the NFL can do. Charities is a nice idea – but out of principle, if they want to curb illegal hits they have to nip this in the bud. And that starts with how kids are taught (or NOT TAUGHT) how to tackle.

  • ozman

    Always hating the best, jajajajaja sorry but steelers #1

  • rhonda

    If you ain’t a STEELERS fan YOU ain’t Sh*T !!!

  • Adam Fabian

    My name is Adam Fabian and I currently reside in Phoenix, aZ but hail from Mt. Pleasant, PA. Steelers are in my blood, my family, and a part of me as much as any other pittsburghian. I have watched over the past few years as the league transitioned from a defense loving, hard hitting, smash-mouth football watching, smack-talking, touchdown celebrating sport that drives every competition loving male in the country into fits to a league that only wants to see spread-offense driven teams with no backbone and tiptoe around their 100 million dollar qb’s. Whatever happened to the days of intimidating and imposing defenses? The ones left these days get more fines than ever before. I feel like the league punishes anyone on defense that tries to make a name for themselves. Roger Goodell has targeted the Steelers specifically because we are so successful and because we don’t want to conform to his ridiculous rule changes and we continue to thrive in his face. Are we hated? Yes. Should we embrace the hate? I think we should. What can they say? Oh sorry you play amazing defense? Oh sorry your team is so successful? No other team can boast the stats, the trophies, the sheer intimidation that we impose. So let the NFL impose their rules, let them hate us, let them continue to fine us and watch fans disappear from the greatest fan base the NFL has ever and will ever see. So my answer to the hate? Bring it! Steelersnation. Stairway to seven this year!

    • Craig

      Preach on Brother Fabian!

  • TIM

    WHERE WERE THE FINES & PENALITIES AT WHEN BEN GOT HIS NOSE BROKEN WHERE WERE THE FINES & PENALITIES WHEN HEATH MILLER GOT HIT BY THE RAVENS. TO ME THE LEAGUE R A BUNCH ASSHOLES WHO GOT THEIR HEAD SHOVED SO FAR UP ROGER GOODELLS ASS IF HE FARTS HE WILL BLOW THEIR BRAINS OUT. WTG GOODELL UR TAKING AWAY THE FUN IN FUNDAMENTALS FOOTBALL IS A HARD HITTING CONTACT SPORT ALWAYS HAS BEEN WHY TRY TO CHANGE THINGS WHEN CLEARLY STEELERS R THE ONLY TEAM IN LEAGUE TO BE PENALIZED. ROGER GOODELL RUINED THE GAME OF FOOTBALL…………

  • http://FACEBOOK LOUIS M.EASTON

    THERE IS ONE WAY THE STEELERS COULD MAKE A STATEMENT TO THE NFL.THEY SHOULD PLAY EVERY GAME WITHOUT TOUCHING THE OPONENT.ON OFFENSE,NEVER MAKE A 1ST DOWN,NEVER SCORE,AND TURN THE BALL OVER WHENEVER YOU GET INSIDE THE RED ZONE.ON DEFENSE,LET THE OTHER TEAM SCORE ON EVERY PLAY.THEN SEE HOW THE LEAGUE LIKES IT WHEN SPONSERS START PULLING THEIRADS FROM ALL STEELER GAMES..

    • Craig

      Louis,

      I certainly see the humor in that, but the best thing the Steelers can do is continue to voice out against this, while playing the same smash mouth defensive football they’ve always played. I don’t think every team (especially the players) in the league is on board with the NFL officials on some of these rule changes even though the owners have voted unanimously some of the safety concerns.

      I don’t think the Steelers take a risk in making themselves non-competitive by playing the way they always have when they risk fines. Keep playing hard and finding ways to win on your own terms – that’s the Steelers way.

  • http://facebook Patricia Nolan-Minder

    This past football season was full of inconsistencies and unfairness, mostly, towards the STEELERS. Other teams experienced the uneven calling of penalties as well, i.e. the Eagles and Michael Vick, specifically. As well as “retraining” the defenses, they need to educate the
    officials as well. Defense has always been the focus of STEELERS football, only since we drafted Ben has offense been an additional priority. Calling Hines Ward a dirty player is ridiculous, he was usually making a play for the ball or protecting the ball from being taken away.

    Unless they want a ref for each and every player on the field, they need to be realistic. This is the NFL, the players have played this kind of football since Pop Warner.

  • Brenda

    OMGosh….is the NFL forgeting the phrase NO PAIN…NO GAIN…what the heck is this coming to??? Will it turn into a pansy sport??? Instead of over throwing the football will the QB have to start trowing under hand???This absolutely UNBELIEVABLE, RIDICULOUS, AND STUPID. A gentle reminder NFL IF you put a RULE in place go straight across the board fairly and NOT individualize because IF you do consistently go after the STEELERS may be the STEELERS should file discrimination or even harassment.
    Proud to be a STEELERFAN4eva : )

  • Edye

    As an avid listener of sirius radio, (NFL) and being a Steeler fan, I agree with the comments mentioned. I am a woman, but enjoy the sport as much as my husband does. We agree completely about the Non-calls showing prejudice against the beloved black and gold. Mr Rooney was a leader in the) league, and his sons are deeply respected by other owners. But we are as outraged as any other Steeler fan about what we all feel is prejudice against Defense. Steeler defense is so famous, other try to emulate it to improve their own team’s defense. We know the truth. James Harrison and the rest of the Defense will do their job, and we will cheer for them, and wave our ‘terrible towels’. I have friends (that support other teams) who have in the past mocked me and my towel. Until they learn the story of the towel, and what is stands for.
    So, they need to get their heads in the right place, and settle this CBA…and let’s get on with it.

  • http://aol rhonda

    who did your info come from Steelers are tops your opinion means nothing there the better team out there and they know.

    • Craig

      rhonda,

      What are you trying to say here? I would be glad to clarify things for you.

  • http://aol rhonda

    I have been a Steelers Fan all my life now in my 50s that has not changed,they have some of the best players around ad and to pick on Hines and the other players get real is nuts ts.How about u go after those eagles they suck and vick on the team dog killer what the hell.Screw the nfl And get off steelers back or the should sue your ass!!!!!!!!!!

    • Craig

      Are you angry with this article? Did you even read it?

      You realize that I’m writing in FAVOR of the Steelers…. right?

  • don

    I was surprised to see you did not mention the hit Hines Ward took from New England. It was helmet to helmet on a defenseless receiver. No flag no fine and it put Hines out of the game and stopped his streak which could have eventually set an NFL record. I’ve been a die hard Steeler fan forever. This kind of crap, along with the lockout, is turning me off to football just like the strikes of the 80s turned me off to baseball. I quit watching that completely.

    • Craig

      Thanks don,

      I forgot about that hit on Hines, and you are totally right. Yes, it is becoming very hard to not equate this whole situation with any other labor and rule strife in other sports like baseball.

  • AJ Perko

    The league is obviously changing the game in favor of higher scoring games”

    The league has been trying to ruin the game for years. They want 49-42. To them, that is somehow good football. It’s a shame, but it’s only going to get worse.

  • Kathleen RILEY

    I SAID IT LAST YEAR- GOODELL IS AN IDIOT TO THE 10TH POWER, AND ALL THOSE CRY BABIES WHO CAN’T TAKE A HIT SHOULD GET OUT OF THE GAME. IT IS VERY CLEAR THE RULES APPLY ONLY TO CERTAIN TEAMS, THE STEELERS BEING ONE OF THE TEAMS WHO ARE FLAGGED FOR THOSE HITS THEY CALL TO HARD. IT JUST DEPENDS ON WHO THE OWNERS ARE WHETHER OR NOT THOSE NEW RULES APPLY. THE GAME WILL BE RUINED IF THEY ENFORCE THE NEW RULES.

  • becky

    I love the Denver Broncos,i have for years.and forever.I hope one of these days.Broncos will win another super bowl.

  • veen

    steelers cheat..AShley Harlan is seen a basketball player behind Ben Roethlisberger back.she will take all his income and move on with the basketball player.who she loves.Ben it is over.move on..

  • vern

    Pittsburgh Steelers cheated against the Arizona Cardinals super bowl game..It is wrong.

  • vern

    Ashley Harlan family are all gold diggers, They will take all Ben Roethlisberger income.Ashley she will destroy Ben life,his career,family,friends and take everything he earned.Ben look at the mess you are getting into..

  • vern

    Ben Roethlisberger..Ashley Harlan whole family are gold diggers.Ashley will destroy your life.your career,family,friends then take everything you earned and marry that basketball player,she is seen behind your back..Ben move on.Find a better person than Ashley Harlan.

  • Steelers300

    What about the play, I believe it was vs. The Ravens when Ben stiff armed and was called for facemask. Before that play I was 90% sure the bsllcarrier during a stiff arm was allowed contact to the facemask

  • vern

    Pittsburgh Steelers sre HOGS..

  • vern

    Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t win the trophy,they STOLE IT !!!!!i

  • vern

    This has nothing to do with the Steelers.Brett Fave,that women who accused him of phone sex.i don’t think Brett Favre would do something like that.That BITCH complaing about it now and that was two years ago.BITCH move on!!!!

  • Brenda

    @vern your comments really are uncalled for and sounds like you really need to get a life rather than be on here and keep typing ridiculous comments over and over again.
    To steal a TROPHY come on…who are you to judge Ashley Harlan? You sound like a very bitter person get over it.
    STEELERFAN4evaxoxoxoxo

  • http://facebook Patricia Nolan-Minder

    Vern-if you’re trying to make a point, please get to it. I get that you don’t like the STEELERS but your comments have nothing to do with the article. You need better command of the english language as well. No one can figure out what the hell you’re talking about.

  • becky

    Steelers got away with a few beatings to ex-quaterback of jay culter in the play off games(broncos) jay cutler had a 104 fever.very sick with pneumonia,i know culter shouldnt of played that day,but players should respect others health..

  • vern

    The truth hurts..If you don’t like my opinion,Then don’t read it !!!!!!!

  • Brenda

    @vern you speak no truth. You are someone that is very obnoxious and just tries to get a rise out of ppl. Honestly you need to reread what you write because it makes no sense. You are just a miserable person and the STEELER NATION IS NOTHING TO RECKON WITH. But hey IF you can’t stomache the STEELER talk than bye bye no need for you here. We are fine…will be fine…and proud. A STEELERFAN4eva xoxoxoxo

    • billy

      Who cares what you think!!!!

  • billy

    I believe you vern!!!!

  • vern

    WHO CARES OF WHAT YOU THINK…YOU SOUND LIKE ASHLEY….

  • vern

    YOU ARE A LOSER!!!!!!

  • vern

    It is Billy,vern you are right!!! Ben Roethlisberger,hopefully he will marry somebody that is decent!!!!

  • billy

    This is billy..Ben Roethlisberger can find a better person that Ashley Harlan…..Vern i believe you,100% …..

  • billy

    If they like the steelers,what are they doing with,nfl hates the pittsburgh steelers,maybe those people need go to a different article!!!!

  • vern

    Right on billy..you are cool!!!! those steelers fans need go to the steelers area..not with the nfl hates the pittsburgh steelers…they must be doing drugs or drunk…

  • billy

    They are jealous because you know the truth,,,,like they say always a jerk in the crowd…

  • vern

    TRUE!!!!!!

  • v****t

    You deserve an no #1 award..it is about time somebody hates the Pittsburgh Steelers..NFL you are 101% right !!!

  • cake

    I believe all of that.100%

  • 5***7

    I like the front of this ad..if i was Ben Roethlisberger,i be checking into that very quickly..

  • summer

    This football season,hopefully,it will be alot better..They need better safety..

  • carl

    A perfect couple: Ben the rapist, Ashley who cheats…