Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger disagrees with JuJu Smith-Schuster's 1-game ban
A day after the NFL announced a one-game suspension for Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and upheld it on appeal, a pair of veteran Steelers were split on whether the league discipline was just.
“I didn't think it was warranted,” Ben Roethlisberger said of the suspension of Smith-Schuster for a hard bock of Vontaze Burfict and standing over him to taunt late in the Steelers' 23-20 victory at Cincinnati on Monday.
“I thought maybe a fine, a pretty steep fine or something like that. I thought what happened happened in the context of a football play. It wasn't a hit on a kicker or a defenseless player. It was a guy getting ready to make a tackle – a much bigger football player. Obviously, we don't like the taunting, standing over him, things like that – I don't like to compare players and suspensions – but you look at what (New England tight end Rob Gronkowski) did and what JuJu did, and they got the same suspension. I don't know that that's necessarily fair, but that's above all of our pay grades.”
Gronkowski was suspended for driving an elbow/forearm into the head/neck area of Buffalo cornerback Tre'Davious White while White laid face-down after a play in which White intercepted a pass intended for Gronkowski.
In announcing the Smith-Schuster suspension, the NFL emphasized the after-the-hit taunt as much as it did the block itself.
Steelers veteran linebacker Arthur Moats empathized with that anti-taunting rationale.
“Do I feel like there should be a place for that in this league? No,” Moats said. “But at the end of the day, it's something he will have to learn from and the guys around the league will have to learn from. If you see this week, hey, if you hit a guy like that and taunt over him and will get suspended, I'm pretty sure guys won't be doing that this week coming up.”
“From the stance of sportsmanship,” Moats added moments later, “because we have been preaching that a lot, if you think about the platform that we have, if they see that not only are we having questionable plays happen but we are also taunting guys after the fact, that's not a good look for the league as a whole.”