Brutality of Steelers-Bengals shouldn't be discharged as 'AFC North football'

3:10 AM ET

You can adore football and hatred what happened Monday night in Cincinnati.

You can balance in for bone-crushing tackles. You can mount adult and hearten when a using behind trucks a linebacker. And, yes, we can still be repulsed by dual plays that will float over this diversion — and maybe a NFL — for weeks and months to come.

This is not a time to argue, stubbornly and with flitting merit, that football contingency be supposed as an uncontrollably infamous and unavoidably aroused game. Indeed, it once was. But it can no longer be, during slightest not in a context we’re accustomed to. We know too many now about a long-term impact of mind injuries to simply endure a unconscionably destined hits that Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown engrossed in a fourth entertain of a Steelers’ 23-20 victory.

Burfict left a margin on a bracket to be evaluated for a concussion, a plant of Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s bootleg block. Less than 4 mins later, Bengals reserve George Iloka drilled Brown’s face facade after a game-tying touchdown. The plays came amid a cover of a frightening first-quarter repairs suffered by Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who was taken to a internal sanatorium since of a behind injury.

The Shazier repairs happened innocently enough, after he lowered his conduct to make a slight tackle. To be fair, many of Monday night’s diversion was played within reasonable bounds of roughness. These teams have a prolonged and exhilarated rivalry, flush with a story of authorised and bootleg hits in new years. That’s roughly positively because Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, when asked about a viciousness of a game, blew it off as “AFC North football.”

But that only can’t be, not anymore, not if we commend a approach a breeze is floating with this competition and game. we spoke this summer with Dr. Bennett Omalu, who detected ongoing dire encephalopathy (CTE) by identifying it in a smarts of defunct NFL players. In his opinion and a opinions of many other medical professionals, a scholarship of steady mind injuries is settled.

“There is no such thing as a protected blow to a head,” he said. “And afterwards when we have steady blows to your head, it increases a risk of permanent mind damage. Once we start carrying hundreds or thousands of blows, there is a 100 percent risk of bearing to permanent mind damage. The mind does not have a reasonable ability to regenerate. This is something we have always known.”

In other words, if we play football prolonged enough, you’re going to be unprotected to permanent mind damage. That doesn’t indispensably meant everybody will tumble victim, of course. But if we consider that concentration on mind health in football is a breakthrough or a flitting regard or anything other than executive to a destiny of a game, afterwards we haven’t been profitable courtesy lately. This isn’t going away. At some point, a dignified tab will arise among fans — if it hasn’t already — who no longer feel entertained by examination players bashing in any other’s brains.

Even a NFL has supposed a existence in that it contingency during slightest try to minimize conduct trauma, be it subconcussive hits on a daily basement or clinical concussions in games. That acceptance has manifested itself in a set of manners that Smith-Schuster and Iloka blew by Monday night.

Both were good within their rights to trigger a high grade of contact. Smith-Schuster was perplexing to retard a many incomparable male from rebellious a teammate, while Iloka was perplexing to mangle adult a touchdown reception. But either by vigilant or elementary miss of control, both players strike their opponents in a head.

New England Patriots parsimonious finish Rob Gronkowski was dangling one diversion on Monday, we comprehend that a NFL still has work to do to remonstrate players to honour what contingency be a red line for avoidable strike to a head. The ask is simple: Do all we can to minimize conduct shots. That alone won’t solve a issue, though it should be a smallest for any critical try to make a diversion safer for a brain.

That competence be something players can hoop among themselves over time. “We need to take ownership,” Bengals receiver A.J. Green told reporters. “We need to take caring of any other.”

Maybe a NFL will claim itself to a larger extent. It’s probable that Smith-Schuster and/or Iloka will accommodate Gronkowski’s predestine and face a suspension. But a indicate will not be to H2O down a diversion or take divided someone’s strength or acquire credit by clutching pearls. It will be to safety a immeasurable infancy of a diversion that many people love, during a responsibility of a turn of force from that we can all mount to evolve.

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