Steelers Targeted By League, Through Refs?

According to the NFL, this is an illegal Crack back block, and Antonio Brown was flagged for it. Photo from

Frankly, it’s getting ridiculous and becoming way too obvious. Penalties that should be called are completely ignored, while the Steelers get victimized by absurd phantom penalties. It all seemed to start in earnest when James Harrison was penalized and fined for a helmet to helmet hit on a defenseless Cleveland receiver, Mohammed Massouqui. Even though there was video evidence to show that Massouqui was not defenseless, that he voluntarily lowered his target area, to absorb the hit. Regardless, Harrison was fined by the league, and was very vocal about it. The biggest insult was that the hit was legal when it was made. He was essentially fined for the hit after the rule was changed mid-week. The NFL, for whatever reason, has created the appearance, quite convincingly, that they have some sort of grudge against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The NFL claims that these penalties are being called in the name of player safety, but the evidence shows how hypocritical the league actually is.

Vontaze Burfict enters Steelers warmup area and headbutted Steelers linebacker Vince Williams prior to the start of the game. Photo from

In the Steelers most recent game against the Bengals, before the game even started, cheap-shot specialist Vontaze Burfict crossed midfield into the Steelers area and headbutted Steelers linebacker Vince Williams. Burfict was neither penalized or fined for his actions, as he should have been. Burfict should also have been penalized and fined for intentionally diving at Ben’s lower legs, after the ball was already released. He told Ben “My bad, I was blocked into you”

Vontaze Burfict dives into Ben Roethlisberger’s lower left leg after the pass was thrown. Photo from

The picture above clearly shows that Burfict was not blocked, but was in fact diving into Ben’s left leg. This is yet another dirty play from the game’s dirtiest player, and he clearly should have been penalized and fined, but yet again, in a span of three weeks, the league chose not to impose a fine or penalty for an illegal or dirty hit on the Steelers quarterback. The other hit the league ignored, was Michael Bennett’s helmet to helmet hit on Ben.

The NFL and the refs overlooked this helmet to helmet hit on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger. Photo from

Ben has been putting up with these kind of hits throughout his career, and is used to the refs and the league turning a blind eye to them. He is not nearly as protected as Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers, who it seems are the league’s two untouchable quarterbacks. There is no doubt that if Burfict went low on either one of those two, he would have been penalized, fined and suspended. Perhaps the worst and most obvious example was when Baltimore tackle Haloti Ngata broke Ben’s nose by chopping behind his facemask. Although Ngata did receive a minimal fine, the referee watched it unfold, and refused to acknowledge the penalty. This kind of treatment from Goodell and the refs is nothing new for the Steelers, but this game at Cincinnati shows just how flagrant it is.

Antonio Brown was called for an illegal Crack back block against Reggie Nelson. In the photo that leads off this article, you can clearly see that Brown and Nelson are engaging one another, as Brown makes contact above the knees. That was one of those phantom calls. This photo below is less than three seconds later, in front of the same referee who threw the flag for the Phantom crack back block. Why wasn’t Nelson called for a facemask penalty? Or at least for illegal hands to the face?

Reggie Nelson with a handful of Antonio Brown’s facemask, completely ignored by the referee. Photo from

I’m not one to normally complain about bad calls, because these referees are human, they make mistakes, but what’s happening to the Steelers is hard to ignore. How does Antonio Brown get penalized and fined for his latest endzone celebration, while Seattle’s Michael Barrett and Vontaze Burfict get neither penalized or fined for illegal hits on Ben Roethlisberger? Where was the penalty for AJ Green for his punting of the football into the stands following his 66 yard touchdown reception? Is this not pass interference on Martavis Bryant?

Martavis Bryant getting mugged by Dre Kirkpatrick in the endzone before the ball arrives. Photo from

It would be one thing if this were just a few isolated calls over the course of a season, but this is six separate incidents from one game. Are the refs really this bad Mr. Goodell, or are you in fact targeting the Steelers because of some vendetta? If your not targeting the Steelers, are these refs influencing games in ways to satisfy those setting the point spreads in Vegas? Either way I find it hard to believe that your referees are really that inept. If they are, why are they still NFL referees? Maybe, Mr. Goodell, you need to make these referees full time league employees, subject to severe enough penalties for mistakes, other than removing a crew from a prime time game and moving them to a 1:00pm game. It’s hard enough that the Steelers have had to beat more than their fair of injuries as well as the opposition this year, but on top of that, they have to beat your referees as well. It’s your problem Mr. Commissioner, and you need to fix it.







15 thoughts on “Steelers Targeted By League, Through Refs?

  1. Thank you very much. Every now and then you get a bad or a missed call, sure I get it, and can accept that. But this many horrible and missed calls, for as long as it’s been happening to the Steelers, it can’t be an accident.


  2. Great reporting and pics to support. I don’t understand the fining of players. They don’t feel it otherwise. It’s football, play the game and penalize at that point on the field. Where does the collection of fines wind up ? Does it help a truly needy charity or does it sit in a Goodell coffer somewhere ? Is there a menu of penalties with specific fine amounts ? Or is it tailored for each team or layer specific ? The Terrible Towel was created to raise funds for particular charity. Then Goodell stole the product and franchised a towel for every team and the NFL to profit from. Where any proceeds ever donated to original cause in effect or just plagiarized ? Shouldn’t Goodell be fined ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate it, thank you. The fines are said to go to different NFL charities. As far as the fines go, there is absolutely no consistency in how they are handed down, that it’s almost a joke. There is supposed to be a schedule for how much a fine is supposed with regard to the violation it’s tied to. Depending on the infraction it goes up with each violation, leading to a potential suspension. That’s how I understand it to be. The Terrible Towel was basically co-opted by the league in a sense, but it still sells almost as much yearly as every team towel collectively. The proceeds from the other team’s towels go to those clubs, maybe their charities.The proceeds from the Terrible Towel continue to go to the Allegheny School for special needs kids. Goodell should be removed from his position all together.


    1. Thank you. It’s amazing just how blatant it has become. Burfict gets nothing for his actions, which include starting trouble pregame and hitting Ben below the knee, while Brown gets fined $11,000 for celebrating and $10,000+ for his back and forth with Dre Kirkpatrick.


  3. According to Adam Schefter, Burfict was fined for three separate plays during the game. Two were for unsportsmanlike conduct and the third was for his hit on Ben Roethlisberger, per a source.

    Also, David DeCastro was fined around $8,000 for a facemask pull during a scrum, underneath the pile.


    1. You’re right, twice AB was interfered with and grabbed by Richard Sherman. The helmet to helmet hit by Michael Barrett wasn’t called. James Harrison was put put in a headlock at least twice trying to get around the end on pass rushes. I still believe it was pass interference on the ball to Bryant near the goal line, dude was halfway up his back before the ball got there.


  4. I honestly think these so called ref’s should be fined for calling these games one sided. How do you not penalize AJ for punting the ball into the stands? Yet penalize for a dance !! Shame on them

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. The announcers saw it, and there’s no way the referee trailing the play didn’t see it. Yet a referee standing 12 feet away from a pile of bodies saw David DeCastro tugging on someone’s facemask at the bottom of the pile, through a mass of bodies, and throws a flag? It was a penalty which DeCastro just got fined for. These referees need to fined and suspended as well for their poor performances. They need to be held accountable just as much as the players are, and they should be made full time employees as well.


  5. It is CONSISTENTLY BLATANT/FLAGRANT disrespect MOSTLY to Coach Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison as well as the rest of the team. I think it goes much deeper and I have a VERY GOOD idea WHY. I refuse to play that card though. Just paying VERY close attention to the OBVIOUS. It ALL started LONG before THIS season. It REALLY started pissing me off back when they started changing the rules because of OUR success, like what they did to try to stop Hines Ward (cause they COULDN’T stop him on the field). WE ARE WHO WE ARE……..THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS………..and they AREN’T…….and THAT is just too damn bad. NEVER a need to make excuses for playing the game the way it was intended. We WILL prevail MOSTLY because we HAVE TO.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely no accident that the refs and the league seem to be hitting the Steelers with ridiculous penalties and fines, while teams get away with cheating and other less than savory actions. Through it all, the players, coaches and the staff have handled it with class. I love how they keep working through it to continue to contend and be a threat.


  6. I think that its great that other Steelers fan see and know the officials are cheating our team. That hit to AB’s head was blatant and you could see his eyes targeting his head. There were so many more instance’s that has happened I just can’t remember them all but I do remember raising hell about the officials. Great stuff thank you.


  7. Thanks Michael, the calls/missed calls that the Steelers have dealt with is utterly ridiculous. Some of them could MAYBE be explained away, but a lot of them are truly head scratchers, showing a real bias against them.


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