The Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety room took a big blow with Damontae Kazee being potentially out for the rest of the season pending appeal. After he delivered a hit to Indianapolis Colts wide receiver, Michael Pittman Jr., Kazee was ejected from the contest and Pittsburgh’s defense surrendered 30 unanswered points in his absence losing 30-13. Former Steelers safety Mike Mitchell took to X (formerly Twitter), to express his frustration with the league rules that make it much tougher to play safety.
Mitchell played for 10 seasons in the NFL. He joined the Steelers in March of 2014 on a five-year, $25 million deal and patrolled the defense’s back end for four seasons before the team cut him. He landed with the Colts for a final season in the NFL in 2018. He joined the Colts’ coaching staff in 2022 as an assistant defensive backs coach. Mitchell was known for his heavy hitting during his playing days. Speaking out on X Monday afternoon, Mitchell, who wasn’t shy about the rules being too restrictive when he was playing, opened up about his frustrations.
“I don’t know what to tell my safeties anymore,” Mitchell wrote. “I guess just let them [receivers] catch it. If I were a WR I would dive for every catch. That would ensure no contact and a completed pass. Playing deep safety in today’s NFL where rules are made mostly by people who’ve never played is tough.”
Mitchell didn’t reference the specific play where Kazee made the tackle on Pittman, but it was pretty obvious that was what he was referring to. Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew led his receiver to the point where he had to dive for the ball, leading to Kazee hitting him low. Flags flew immediately after the contact by the Pittsburgh safety.
Mitchell made it clear that he fully supports the league trying to make the game safer, but is still confused about how players at his former position are supposed to play the game under the new rules.
“I love Pittman to life. Before you guys go to crazy I’m all for player safety and making the game safer and better for the current players. I watch my best friend get paralyzed playing this game. I was just saying it’s extremely tough to play safety in today’s league… #GoColts”
NFL legend Tom Brady also weighed in on the suspension of Kazee with an Instagram comment. He said that placing the blame on the defensive player in this situation is completely wrong. He argued that it was bad quarterback play that caused the hit and added that it’s unacceptable for quarterbacks to throw balls like the one Minshew did.
Steelers’ Safety “Not A Dirty Player” According To Mike Tomlin
Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin addressed the Kazee hit during his weekly press conference at around the same time the news of the suspension was released. The veteran head coach iterated that in his estimation, Kazee is not a dirty player. He said that it was an unfortunate play where both players were going low and making contact. Sometimes, that’s just how the game is these days.
Do you agree with Mitchell that it’s getting too hard to play defensive back in the NFL? Does the NFL need to put more emphasis on quarterbacks not putting receivers in harm’s way?