ShareThis Page

Rossi: Goodell must take aim at rampant mayhem

| Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, 9:09 p.m.
Bengals running back Jeremy Hill is separated from Steelers players during the fourth quarter of their AFC wild-card game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Cincinnati.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Bengals running back Jeremy Hill is separated from Steelers players during the fourth quarter of their AFC wild-card game Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Cincinnati.


As the dust settled on Part 3 of the Spaghetti Western that has become Steelers-Bengals, a battered-but-not-broken gunslinger should have stood tall early Sunday morning.

But Ben Roethlisberger isn't the gunslinger the NFL needs right now.

Roger Goodell is.

And the NFL commissioner should pay attention to how Roethlisberger and the Steelers exited stage left from Paul Brown Stadium on Saturday night. Fast as they could after an 18-16 victory, everybody on the field with ties to the Steelers ran into the locker room.

No handshakes. No prayer circle.

Only running.

What, they were supposed to stick around and wait for a despondent (and drunken) fan to toss a trash can at them from the upper deck?

Those cans were the only ones not thrown during the fourth quarter, when the Bengals' understandably frustrated faithful made it rain with debris. Plastic cups, cardboard drink holders, hand warmers, ponchos and who knows what else …

Actually, we all know what else was tossed from the stands.


One hit Roethlisberger as a cart carried him off for evaluation and treatment of his injured throwing shoulder. Made sense then, that after he returned to lead the unlikeliest winning drive of his stellar career, Roethlisberger cut short a TV interview.

Even the gunslinger knows when to get out of Dodge. But usually the gunslinger takes his shot to fix things first.

Goodell should order an overhaul of officiating for all remaining playoff games.

That is his fix.

Goodell should do away with the so-called “all-star crews” and assign the four highest-rated officiating teams to the divisional games this weekend. His next act should be to publicly urge officials to eject anybody who crosses the line once inside a stadium.

Light up a defenseless receiver, and the lights go out on your privilege to play in the postseason.

Stray onto the field or touch somebody you shouldn't, and you're no longer coaching in the postseason.

Toss something from the stands — whether an empty plastic cup or a battery — and you no longer are among the privileged possessor of tickets for the postseason.

Don't play favorites, Mr. Commissioner.

Don't play around, either.

Your NFL is starting to look like English football once did.

Unruly. Dangerous.

The end to the Steelers-Bengals game Saturday night wasn't as weird as the fourth quarter was frightening.

I wasn't alone among reporters fearing a riot might break out. Nor was I alone in blaming poor officiating for an anxious crowd turning aggressive.

Officiating has been inconsistent — which is code for awful — all season.

But the NFL has been courting an in-stadium tragedy since its TV ratings-inspired decision to stage most playoff games in the late afternoon or evening. Once, the worry was fans withstanding subfreezing temperatures.

Now I'm wondering who in the stadium is safe if the powder keg blows.

Sure seemed like an uncontrollable environment Saturday night, a toxic mash of intoxication and negative energy with bad calls served up as the chaser.

On the field and in the stands, the NFL has a discipline problem.

More than embarrassing, it's becoming scary because nobody seems overly concerned about the worst-case scenario.

Maybe if fans started throwing allegedly under-inflated footballs at owners who were between the lines and trying to relocate players, and overmatched officials missed it all, the gunslinger in Goodell would re-emerge?

Or at least take aim.

Rob Rossi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.