Reporting Rick Dayton
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With six Super Bowl championship celebrations, Steelers fans have grown used to success and they don’t take too kindly to anything that puts those winning ways in jeopardy.
Fans and players alike have expressed frustration over the NFL’s recent crackdown on hits — particularly with Steelers linebacker James Harrison shelling out $125,000 in fines on four separate occasions this season.
KDKA-TV’s Rick Dayton recently had a chance to sit down with team president, Art Rooney III, to get his thoughts on hard hits, fines and what his grandfather The Chief might think about the state of the game right now.
“I think our fans want to think that the games are being officiated fairly and in a consistent way,” Rooney told KDKA, “and so that’s why you get some of the questions that have come up in some of our games. And it’s been an unusual year — there’s no question about it — for our team.”
Unusual is one way to describe it.
While there are many more wins than losses as another playoff run draws near, the fines have also piled up quickly against Harrison.
“There have been some challenges, no question about it,” continued Rooney, “but I think our guys are doing a good job of trying to make sure we are playing within the rules and are not doing things that can hurt the team when it comes to what might happen with penalties.”
Against the Raiders in November, the Steelers were flagged for a team record 163 yards and Oakland Defensive Lineman Richard Seymour was tossed from the game for a shot to Ben Roethlisberger’s jaw. The league later fined Seymour $25,000.
Rooney says the Steelers simply want consistency in the calls.
“The league has put a new emphasis on discipline on hits that are against the rules,” Rooney continued, “and I think everybody is really trying to understand how the discipline is going to be applied.”
When asked what his grandfather might do or say about all the fines and debates over officiating, Rooney paused for a minute and then said he’s sure of one thing: The Chief would have made his point to the league, but it would have been a private conversation — behind closed doors.