The Pittsburgh Steelers had a bad time in Buffalo yesterday. They are certainly not the first, and they won’t be the last. It’s why they jump through tables and baptize themselves in condiments up there, after all, just to distract themselves.
Well, they’ve got themselves a pretty good distraction on Sundays these days with their Bills, who had their way with the Steelers yesterday—even former teammates clashing and drawing tension between the two sides when Pitt alum Damar Hamlin laid a hard and late hit on quarterback Kenny Pickett going into a slide.
While Pickett’s right guard, James Daniels, was on the scene to take care of business, both Pickett and Hamlin talked about the play after the game, and they even got together for a bit, both acknowledging that there was nothing more to it than what was on the field.
“I’m fine with D-Ham”, Pickett said in his post-game press conference. “That’s one of my guys. He will be one of my really good friends for a long time. We’re competing, it’s all good”. For Hamlin’s part, he said after the game, via Jon Scott, “Like I told him on the field, you’re my brother. I ain’t gonna hurt you or play dirty. He knows that. I’m playing within the lines of the game. If you’re supposed to slide, you slide or you’re gonna get hit”.
Pickett, of course, did slide; however, Hamlin was not flagged for the play, though Daniels was. He was even told on the field by the official that he was being ejected, but that was overruled by New York. Likewise, Shaq Lawson’s late and low hit on Pickett wasn’t flagged, but his retaliation was.
One can make the argument for Hamlin that he began lowering his head before it was clear that Pickett was going to slide—and Pickett is also known for um, not quite sliding when he’s supposed to, which perhaps Hamlin was referencing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be fined later in the week.
The two former Panthers did get together at some point during the day, as Hamlin posted on his Twitter profile after the game, showing that there are no hard feelings, although the actual meeting I would guess was before the game, but I can’t be certain.
Hamlin and Pickett were teammates for four years from 2017 through 2020, so it’s not like there’s any question about their relationship. There’s no reason at all to think that Hamlin was doing anything but making a football play—and maybe adding a little mustard as you would do playing against your brother.
As reflected in head coach Mike Tomlin’s sentiments after the game, while he is disappointed in the officials for not throwing the flag on the play, because it is by definition a penalty, he didn’t take issue with Hamlin on the play itself.