Earlier this week, Mike Mitchell was on The Jim Rome Show talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers, their recent performance, and his role on the team, which involves in part being an enforcer. Say what you will about his play on the field, but he always makes for a good interview, speaking with clarity, intelligence, and passion.
One of the things that he discussed was the defense’s dissatisfaction with their nine-point showing against the Vikings. “We still did a good job of taking care of the run game and limiting them in the pass game”, he said, “but there were still a lot of plays that we left out there. There was a third-and-20 conversion that I had a hand in giving up, and then they proceeded to score”.
“We like to be as stingy as we can, so on a day like today especially, we’re going to look at the tape and be very critical, because the goal for us is to win a world championship”, Mitchell told Jim Rome. “We know what it’s like the lose in the AFC Championship to the eventual champions, we know the steps we need to take and that’s where our focus is”.
Asked if that puts added, unnecessary pressure on the players, he said, “being a true competitor, what are you in the game for if not to win championships, to win as many as you can? For a guy like me and for every guy on this football team, we’re a bunch of likeminded guys. Our goal when we wake up is to be a world champion”.
He said that it is simply the way that things are done in Pittsburgh. “That’s the way we think. That’s the way our organization thinks. That’s the way our coaches think. That’s the way our owners think. That’s the way that we go about our day-to-day business”.
Part of his day-to-day business also involves a bit of violence, which he talked about as well, contrasting it with another passion of his, MMA fighting. “Being violent is a byproduct of what I’m ultimately trying to do”, he said, the means rather than the end itself. “What I’m ultimately trying to do is get a man on the ground if he’s running the ball or break up a pass if a pass is thrown. I’m not particularly trying to hurt anyone”.
But he acknowledged that it is an unavoidable aspect of the job. “That sometimes unfortunately happens based on the way that I do play and just the violent nature of the game. You know, sometimes receivers duck”. We saw that a couple of times in the season opener, in fact.
But he noted, “if you look at over the course of my career, I think I’m one of the guys that’s gotten exponentially better at not hitting people in the head and KOing…I had a really good one in the Browns game. I had one just yesterday in the game on [Kyle Rudolph]”.
“I’m skilled”, he said. “I’m not just a guy that’s out there running around without any control. I’m skilled, I’m aiming where I’m hitting and I’m hitting guys in the body legally”. And he is right about that, both in terms of his current success in delivering big hits cleanly and in terms of the fact that he has improved in doing so over the years.