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A Study in repudiation: Clarifying the difference between clean and dirty hits

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The following is a fact-based observation that can be used by any Bengals fan in need of a visual representation of how to refute erroneous accusations by Steelers fans.

Who Dey knows what a dirty play looks like. Do you?
Who Dey knows what a dirty play looks like. Do you?
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals vs Steelers rivalry has seen some exceptionally chippy play over the past decade or so, which is to be expected in a divisional rivalry. It's a part of football at the high school, college, and professional levels. Football is an inherently violent sport, which leads to unfortunate injuries. Dirty plays will happen, and both the Bengals and Steelers have been guilty of them at one time or another. Judging what is dirty and what is clean has become an issue for our Pennsylvanian foes. The following observations have been pulled from the aforementioned period of time to illustrate this point.

The following images are "clean hits" according to Steelers fans:

If you need a reminder, that is Kevin Huber, a punter, getting blindsided by Terence Garvin, a linebacker.

This is Hines Ward, celebrating over Keith Rivers, a player he just injured with another blindside block. Steelers fans accuse Vontaze Burfict of doing this same thing in the teams' last meeting, but we'll get to that shortly.

This is Mike Tomlin, who despite what you see, is not an actual football player. On this play, Mike Tomlin became the only coach in NFL history to be credited with a tackle. I double checked, and coaches are actually not allowed to do this.

The following hits are considered "dirty" by Steelers fans:

Here is Reggie Nelson going low to tackle Le'Veon Bell. This is a tackle that happens countless times every Sunday. This one was "dirty" though because Bell ended up hurt. I'd suggest buying him one of these if you want to keep him healthy. That tackle is as clean and legal as it gets. With the NFLs added emphasis on deterring blows to the head, this style of tackling has become even more common. Sometimes players get hurt in a physical sport like football. Dirty play isn't always the culprit. In fact, it rarely is.

Based on the aforementioned Bell-Nelson tackle, I guess it is safe to assume that this tackle was also dirty and Leon Hall is clearly trying to injure Antonio Brown. Wrong; they don't. There is literally no difference between the two tackles. I don't remember this being classified as an attempt on Brown's life, but using the established logic, you'd surely think it was.

Since low tackles are a no-no, Vontaze Burfict grabbed Bell around the shoulders to make a big third down stop in Week 8. Like making low tackles, grabbing a ballcarrier from behind and riding them to the ground is an incredibly common occurrence. That tackling form does not become dirty when someone gets hurt. Furthermore, some fans and players didn't like Burfict running away to celebrate with teammates. While Burfict is a very good linebacker, he is not the greatest doctor known to man. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to immediately diagnose Bell's injury. In fact, he wasn't even looking at him as he got up and ran away. He was celebrating a tackle in his first game back after returning from his own injury.

But I digress, the Steelers' organization epitomizes class. Just look at these images for confirmation:

Here is Vince Williams simultaneously trying to threaten Vontaze Burfict while placing dead last in an elementary school spelling bee. Williams was not disciplined by the team or league for his threat.

Here is Mike Tomlin showing his failure to grasp what a dirty tackle actually is. If he reads this article, perhaps it will clarify this misconception for him.


As is clear to see, the hits above that were deemed "clean" by Steelers fans were actually dirty, as well as the "dirty" hits by Bengals players actually being clean. But how did it get this way? Do these Yinzers drink so much Yuengling on Sundays that it impairs their vision to a point that they can no longer differentiate dirty tackles from an opponent making routine tackles? We cannot rule out any possibility for certain until further testing is done.