Former NFL defensive end calls players complaining about tougher tackling rules 'the dumbest thing I've ever heard'

  • Former NFL defensive end Osi Umenyiora chastised current NFL players complaining about the NFL’s player safety rules.
  • Umenyiora’s comments seemed to be directed at Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Mitchell, who compared the current NFL to flag football.
  • Umenyiora said players should be on-board with the NFL’s rules because of the dangers of head trauma.

Former NFL defensive end Osi Umenyiora criticised Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety Mike Mitchell’s stance on the NFL’s tackling rules.

Following an ugly “Monday Night Football” game between the Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals that resulted in several questionable hits, injuries, and one suspension, Mitchell compared the NFL to “flag football.”

“Give us flags for me to pull off so that way I know what we are playing,” Mitchell said.

“I signed up to play full-speed, contact football, and we’re not doing that. I feel like I’ve got to ask a guy, ‘Hey, are you ready for me to hit you right now before I hit you?’ That’s crazy.”

Umenyiora, who played 11 years in the NFL, called Mitchell’s comments “the dumbest thing [he’s] ever heard” to Evan Grossman of The New York Daily News.

“For them to come out and speak the way they’re speaking is just the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Umenyiora said. They’re out of their minds.” Umenyiora never mentioned Mitchell by name, but had first tweeted his thoughts, referencing the “flag football” comment.

“There’s so much beauty and so much aggression and physical nature of the game without hitting people in their head,” Umenyiora told Grossman.

Umenyiora added: “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.”

He also criticised the “macho” culture in the NFL.

“I think we”e all very well aware of the dangers of the game,” he said. “There’s just this whole aura of the game is macho and all these types of things that people don’t care what the consequences are going to be a little later on.”

The past week was an ugly one for the NFL, as it saw Ryan Shazier suffer a scary spinal injury from a head-on tackle that required surgery, Vontaze Burfict leave a game after a hard hit from Juju Smith-Schuster, who then stood over Burfict, and George Iloka hit Antonio Brown head on after a touchdown catch. Rob Gronkowski also was accused of taking a cheap shot at Tre’Davious White by jumping onto his back well after a play and sending him into concussion protocol. Gronkowski and Smith-Schuster were suspended, while Iloka’s hit was reduced from a suspension to a fine.

Uminyiora said there is inconsistency in the NFL’s officiating, but nonetheless said the rules for players’ safety are for the best.

“From the players’ standpoint, I just don’t understand what they’re doing, what they’re talking about, because the evidence is there.”

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