Iloka backs Steelers’ Mitchell, defends Smith-Schuster hit


Finally, something the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers can agree on.

One day after having his suspension overturned by the NFL and saying “they made the right decision,” Bengals safety George Iloka concurred with comments made by Steelers safety Mike Mitchell on Wednesday.

“I personally think, like Mike said, if you start suspended guys for that, the league is going to turn into a brand of football in which, if you’re worried about losing viewers, you’ll lose a lot more,” Iloka said. “Fines. Understandable. Repeat offenders. Understandable. Plays away from the ball, off ball incidents, post-whistle kind of things. OK, all right. Those might warrant suspensions if deemed unreasonable.

“But on-ball kind of plays, which are football plays, to suspend for that is going to set a bad precedent to where guys are just going to pull up and give away things,” Iloka added. “I’m not a betting man, but I can guarantee you next if will be Vegas complaining, talking about they’re throwing these games and things like that.”

›› Marvin Lewis says John Ross concealed shoulder injury

Iloka pointed to the play where William Jackson stopped short of hitting Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell because he appeared to be heading out of bounds, only to watch him to stay in bounds and score a 35-yard touchdown.

“That, to me, I would turn off football to see plays like that,” he said. “(Jackson)told you legit, ‘I was scared of getting a personal foul.’”

Iloka said the hit he originally was suspended for is a football play and took exception to the suggestion it was in response to the hit JuJu Smith-Schuster delivered against Vontaze Burfict, resulting in the Bengals linebacker leaving the field strapped to a backboard on a cart.

Follow Jay Morrison on Twitter

The Smith-Schuster hit, which Iloka defended, also drew a one-game suspension that will be served Sunday after the rookie receiver’s appeal was denied.

“I heard people say it was for retaliation,” Iloka said. “No. Not the case. There’s just 3 minutes and some change left and they’re going for a tie. He throws the ball into a tight window and I tried to make a play. Whether it be a random team like the Detroit Lions, the Steelers, the Browns, anybody, just take away my name, take away the receiver, take away the team names, that’s what you want each player to do in that situation.

“You expect the quarterback to throw into a tight window,” he continued. “You expect the receiver to go up for the catch. And you expect the safety to try to draw the ball free. Period. Just take away the names. It’s not that deep. It was a football play. Just like JuJu’s was a football play. It’s just obviously like they said and a lot of people said, no one agrees with him standing over someone that’s hurt. But football plays are football plays, and this game is violent. We know that.”

›› Bengals rookie ready for more after making first career start

Mitchell defended Iloka on Twitter after the suspension was announced, saying he’s not a dirty player. Iloka and Mitchell work out together in the offseason and talk at times during the season.

Iloka said he didn’t think Mitchell was defending him so much as he was sticking up for the game they play and love.

›› Bengals coach angry about comments from Pittsburgh kicker

“He obviously understands the position we’re in week in and week out,” Iloka said. “I think he’s just speaking for the future of the game. I’m going to be in that position five more times this next game, and the game after that. That’s the position we’re in as safeties. Quarterbacks are going to throw into tight windows and you’ll be in that situation a lot. It feels like what am I supposed to do? What would you want your safety on your team to do? Just concede us a touchdown?

“That’s not how anybody should want the game to be,” he added. “Not a fan, not a coach and not a player. Period. I think that’s what (Mitchell) sees. He’s like man, if you’re suspended after football plays, what are we doing? We’re not playing football anymore. It’s just flag football. If you want a flag, go to your local college intramural league, not what we’re doing here.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

High School Football computer ratings: Is your team in the playoff mix?
High School Football computer ratings: Is your team in the playoff mix?

The Ohio High School Athletic Association made its football computer ratings debut on Tuesday. The top eight schools from each region in the final report Oct. 29 will qualify for the playoffs. Region 1 - 1. Mentor (4-0) 11.65, 2. Solon (4-0) 9.575, 3. Euclid (3-1) 8.875, 4. Canton McKinley (4-0) 7.9242, 5. Austintown-Fitch (3-1) 7.8, 6. Strongsville...
Urban Meyer reveals his role in Ohio State offense moving forward
Urban Meyer reveals his role in Ohio State offense moving forward

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?  That apparently is Urban Meyer’s thinking as he returns to the sideline this weekend for Ohio State football after a three-game suspension.  “I think I’ll be involved more as a game manager at this point,” the coach said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference Tuesday afternoon...
Panthers’ college-style offense presents Bengals with unique challenge
Panthers’ college-style offense presents Bengals with unique challenge

While the Carolinas continue to recover from the flooding left by Hurricane Florence, the Cincinnati Bengals are preparing for a Week 3 road matchup with the Panthers. The teams meet at 1 p.m. Sunday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Carolina (1-1) is coming off a 31-24 loss at Atlanta but will provide the Bengals (2-0) with a challenge in the...
Prep football: Pelgen’s big numbers part of Madison’s defensive strength
Prep football: Pelgen’s big numbers part of Madison’s defensive strength

Cole Pelgen is quick to point out that Madison High School’s defensive dominance is a group effort. He just happens to be getting the biggest stats right now. The senior end leads the Southwestern Buckeye League with 7.5 sacks — nobody else has more than four — for a Mohawk squad that’s ranked second in the latest Associated...
What is Urban Meyer inheriting in the 4th-ranked Ohio State football team?
What is Urban Meyer inheriting in the 4th-ranked Ohio State football team?

Three games into the 2018 season, Ohio State has played three games and won them all.  Winning is the bottom line in sports (between the lines, anyway), but not all 3-0 starts are created equally.  Here’s a closer look at the team Urban Meyer is inheriting this week after a three-game suspension.  Ohio State is third the nation...
More Stories