The Bengals and Steelers do not get along. Their history of line crossing hits is well documented, and it’s resurfaced every time in recent years in which these two teams meet. This week Steelers players have been very vocal about what has happened in the past and their hopes for the game this week. It even has Ben Roethlisberger hoping for a normal football game (like the rest of us).
There is a slight bit of hope for that. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey actually had some nice-ish things to say in regards to Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
“I actually like playing against Burfcit, man,” he said to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. “I think he’s a great player. He’s physical; he talks trash, but he does it in the right way — sometimes it’s a little excessive — but when you’re a defensive player, it’s supposed to be like that
That is pretty much a normal thing one player would say about another team’s player. He didn’t go to twitter and threaten his life, he didn’t mock a player who got a scary concussion during the game and he didn’t chalk up all the extra curricular up to being AFC North football.
The truth is we all just want to go back to when this was just a heated rivalry that wasn’t an ugly train wreck of who can get revenge on who. It has almost gotten to the point where you wonder how much farther this can go. You would have thought the Ryan Shazier spinal injury would’ve had players reflect on this more, but then we saw wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster take a completely uncalled for shot on Burfict and proceed to stand over his body.
Burfict to his own credit has toed the line a few times over his career. He has even admitted to such. One could even argue that if Mike Tomlin had a better control of his team he would’ve shutdown his team’s actions.
Still Burfict has been one of the best linebackers in the NFL since he was signed by the Bengals. It has always been a matter of him staying on the field and playing within the rules. He has often been suspended or injured, which has limited his ability to help Cincinnati. Still when he is out there you can’t argue that the Bengals get better on defense.
The fact is, both sides have played their parts in this rivalry going to far, but comments like Pouncey’s are the kind of thing that can help reel this rivalry back in. These teams need to establish a mutual respect of each other regardless of what has been said and done. Otherwise this rivalry that could get even worse, as if that’s possible.
These two teams will probably never like each other, but they should at least be able to get through a game without trying to intentionally hurt each other like Bud Dupree admitted to just yesterday.
Talking to Bud Dupree today about returning to Cincy after the weirdness/tragicness/awfulness of last visit, he shared this: said he and Vince W weren't sure how Shazier was hurt. Thought he was hit blindside. Spent rest of 1H trying to exact revenge. Didn't see replay till half.— Will Graves (@WillGravesAP) October 10, 2018