(Photo: Getty Images)
By Connor Orr, SI.com....
If nothing else on Monday, hopefully we all recognize what an unbelievable bargain these players make every time they step on the field. We rationalize it by mentioning compensation, the high life they live and the unmatched adrenaline they feel. We talk about how it used to be when there weren’t so many rules protecting these modern athletes despite knowing damn well that every year the competition gets faster and the hits get harder. It allows us to keep an arm’s length between the joy we derive from America’s most popular sport and the damage we know they incur on every hit.
Shazier should have scared the hell out of every person watching on Monday. He should have made us wince with every boneheaded helmet-to-helmet hit that followed—and there were plenty. He should have forced us to ask an important question: How do we stop this from feeling normal?
By Emma Baccellieri, Deadspin...
Tonight’s Steelers-Bengals game was brutal—football that can charitably be described as “old-school” and accurately, necessarily described as “sickening.” The hits came and kept coming, with the injury count ticking upward. The night’s worst injury, though, happened only minutes after kick-off, when Ryan Shazier was carted off the field after a first-quarter tackle attempt.
By Sean Wagner-McGough, CBS Sports....
On Monday night, the Steelers beat the Bengals, 23-20. Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown made the kind of plays that only they -- two generational talents -- are capable of making. A.J. Green repeatedly torched the Steelers' defense. And the Steelers somehow found a way to overcome a 17-point deficit on the road.
But none of those things are what this game will be remembered for -- it's not what really matters. What matters is that a Steelers-Bengals game once again devolved into the kind of game that shouldn't exist in today's NFL. It was the kind of game that made loving football difficult.
The madness peaked in the fourth quarter. With the Steelers mounting a comeback, Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster blindsided Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfictwith a head shot that technically served as a block. So often, Burfict is the one delivering controversial and dirty hits. But on Monday night, he was the victim of a hit so dirty, it won't be considered controversial.
By Kevin Seifert, ESPN.com...
You can love football and hate what happened Monday night in Cincinnati.
You can tune in for bone-crushing tackles. You can stand up and cheer when a running back trucks a linebacker. And, yes, you can still be repulsed by two plays that will hover over this game -- and perhaps the NFL -- for weeks and months to come.
This is not the time to argue, stubbornly and with fleeting merit, that football must be accepted as an uncontrollably vicious and unavoidably violent game. Indeed, it once was. But it can no longer be, at least not in the context we're accustomed to. We know too much now about the long-term impact of brain injuries to simply tolerate the unconscionably directed hits that Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown absorbed in the fourth quarter of the Steelers' 23-20 victory.
By Danny Heifetz, The Ringer....
The Monday Night Football matchup between the Bengals and Steelers was billed as a physical matchup. It lived up to the hype in all of the wrong ways.
Less than four minutes into the game, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier suffered a back injury on a seemingly routine tackle. MNF announcer Sean McDonough noted that Shazier was not seen moving his legs before being stretchered off the field. He was later sent off in an ambulance to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where team officials said in a statement that he had an MRI and a CT scan and “will not require surgery at this time.”