The Steelers’ MNF Win Over the Bengals Was a Rough Reminder of Football’s Brutality

With two players leaving on stretchers and several other concussed, this game was tough to watch.

Forget rushing yards and passing touchdowns, the stats that matter most from the Steelers 23-20 win over the Bengals on Monday night relate to all of the injuries suffered on the field. 

1: The number of players transported to a trauma center after suffering a spinal injury. This tackle by Ryan Shazier didn’t look especially dangerous when it happened, but as it became clear that he couldn’t move his legs, things started looking series. Shazier is reportedly suffering from a spinal cord injury and has only limited movement in his legs.

2: The number of players who left the field on a stretcher. Shazier was the first and Vontaze Burfict was the second. The Bengals linebacker was blown up on a block by Steelers wide out JuJu Smith-Schuster in the fourth quarter. Burfict, who is widely regarded as the dirtiest player in football, had it coming, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown said after the game. “Karma. It’s called karma,” he said in the locker room as Smith-Schuster tried to apologize.

3: The number of players who ended the game on the concussion protocol. Burfict was joined in the concussion protocol by his teammates Dre Kirkpatrick, who was injured on the same play, and Joe Mixon, who was rocked by Steelers linebacker Vince Williams. 

4: The number of players who should have ended the game on the concussion protocol. Antonio Brown took this lick and kept on playing. Might sound crazy, but maybe he should have his brain checked out after getting hit with this howitzer.

It’s been a while since the NFL has had a game with this many brain rattling hits. Ben Roethlisberger wrote it off as a  “AFC North football,” but he’s too close to the action to see what’s really going on. The more people see vicious displays like Monday’s, the more they’re turning away from the sport. It’s too violent and watching makes some people feel culpable in perpetuating that violence. 

Last night’s game was bad for the sport of football and bad for the NFL. Plenty of people thought so, and s not just fans and namby-pamby writers. At least one member of the football Hall of Fame said it was “hard to watch” and “terrible for the NFL.”