DeAngelo Williams may not have been healthy enough to participate in the Steelers' playoff run, but that didn't stop him from talking about what could've been if it weren't for an injury (or two).
Making an appearance at ESPN's headquarters on Wednesday, Williams reinforced his belief that if not for Vontaze Burfict's hit on Antonio Brown, the Steelers would've been in position to make a Super Bowl run.
"For me, my rival throughout my year will be the Cincinnati Bengals," Williams told ESPN. "I don't think there was any doubt in my mind if AB was not interfered on or hit the way he was hit, however you want to label it -- there's no doubt we go on and give the Broncos hell."
Plenty of Steelers players and seemingly the entire Steelers fanbase thinks that Burfict's hit was dirty, and most--if not all--think that his suspension (three games to start off the 2016 season) was warranted, or even too lenient. I disagree. Current Steelers linebacker James Harrison and former Steelers player Ike Taylor also believe that Burfict's hit wasn't dirty.
However, every NFL fan understands that if a team is able to stay healthy, it has a better chance of winning the Super Bowl; in that sense, Williams' point seems a bit redundant. Rivalry aside, all we can hope for as fans, and as people, is that the upcoming games played between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati don't get out of hand, like the final two of the team's three 2015-2016 season matchups. The chaos that happened on the field and in the stands, by players and fans of both teams, was disgraceful. The NFL and its fans do not want to see football get out of hand to the point where fans are brawling and players are celebrating the injuries of their opponents.
Williams, who later claimed he "would have played on a nub" had his Steelers made the Super Bowl, makes a fair point in saying that his team could've made a playoff run. The Broncos looked like a very beatable team at times, despite their Super Bowl victory. Additionally, the timing of Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger's injuries was severely unfortunate to the Steelers, just like the timing of Le'Veon Bell's injury was in 2014.
But ultimately, talking about what could've been is just talk. The Bengals have just as much a right to predict a potential Super Bowl 50 run if not for Andy Dalton's fractured thumb, a 2014 Super Bowl run if not for a litany of injuries on both sides of the ball a 2013 Super Bowl run if not for Geno Atkins' ACL tear, and so on and so forth, just like any NFL team can blame injuries on a lack of success.
Injuries happen to every team (well, except to the 2015 Denver Broncos). 12 of the Bengals' 2015 starters have missed at least one playoff game in the past three seasons, so the Bengals have just as much of an excuse to complain as Williams does. But, as previously mentioned, injuries happen. That's why it's often said that the team that stays the healthiest is the team that wins the Super Bowl.
Despite Martavis Bryant's suspension and the fact that Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams are all recovering from injuries, the Steelers still look like a dangerous team heading into 2016. The Bengals, fresh off another one-and-done season, should also be competitive. Watching the fierce rivalry between these two teams should be exciting, and playoff runs from either team shouldn't be surprising to anyone. Let's just hope that the referees can take control of the game and that the players are able to stay healthy throughout the season and postseason, should they make it there.