Mike Mitchell On Big Hits: ‘It’s Never Personal. It’s All Business’

Pittsburgh Steelers free safety, like many in the lineup that have come before him—most immediately the thundering Ryan Clark—loves to hit people. He loves to administer big hits. It’s a part of the game for him, a part of his job description as an enforcer. But it’s not personal, it’s business, and he isn’t looking to hurt people.

That is what he told Joe Rutter writing for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I try to play the game the right way”, he said. “Old-school NFL professional football”, as he put it. After he put a hit on Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton inside the 10-yard line that knocked him out of the game, he said, “I told him, ‘good job’ on eating that”.

“It was a good hit”, Hilton said after the game, adding that “it wasn’t the hit that hurt me. It was just that ground. That ground doesn’t move”. But Mitchell does, and he moves with authority when he finds that he has an opportunity to make a big impact that sets a tone for the game.

He went up to Hilton after the hit. “Any time a guy gets up and is OK”, he said, “I want to let them know that it’s never personal. It’s all business”. He also added, “I do that to every guy that I hurt. I’m ruthless and cold-blooded, but I’m not out there to hurt people”.

But perhaps he is, if you hearken back to comments that his teammate, James Harrison, once made several years back. Harrison, talking about his playing style and his hits, drew a distinction between hurting and injuring. He said that he wants to hurt people, but never injure them. And to me, those are exactly the sort of hits that Mitchell has been dishing out.

The free agent signee in his third year with the Steelers, Mitchell has been, as he often is, facing some heavy criticism, most directly from the fan base, about his performance, but he turned in arguably one of his better, and certainly one of his most forceful, performances on Thursday since coming to Pittsburgh.

Aside from recording his first interception of the season and looking impressive on the return attempt to boot, he also recorded seven tackles, and accumulated a number of big hits throughout the game. He also had one or two of those forceful impacts on Sunday against the Browns.

The Steelers will have some down time before their next game, but when they do take the field again, Mitchell is going to have to contend with an impressive group of wide receivers from the Giants, including chief among them Odell Beckham Jr., one of the top players at his position.

You can imagine that he would like to get a good shot on him early on in the game to help set the tone for the defense and to send a clear signal to New York’s offense about what they are getting themselves into, and what they won’t be able to get away with.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • DirtDawg1964

    If he could play 10 games like that a year I’d be more than happy. Unfortunately he will log ten games where he takes an unnecessary penalty and finds himself way out of position.

    I’m hoping he show some up against the Giants. One big hit on OBJ will take that clown out of the game.

  • Abed Medawar

    Yet to see him play great consistently and when he does I’ll be ready to say that he’s what we need at that postion to be a great defense again.

  • Rusted Out

    Dear Mitchell, please continue to lay the wood and silence your haters. Lord knows no one else in the Steelers secondary is going to.

  • westcoasteeler

    Dear Mike Mitchell, please don’t miss tackles and I won’t scream at the flatscreen.

  • Orlysteel

    This defense needs to be feared once again they need old school intimidators like Mitchell, gonna get him a dart board with Steve Smith ‘a face on it for Christmas.

  • Jacob

    Oh, it was the ground that hurt you? Are you sure it wasn’t the force of Mike’s hit slamming you to the ground? The unmoveable ground didn’t exactly jump at you. 🙂

  • The Chin

    Mike had a good game because he actually made some plays on the ball. Often he’s nowhere near it.

  • dany

    Business is booming?

  • Matthew Marczi

    Well, the hits certainly are.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    I have said it a couple of times over the last 2 weeks but IMO, Mitchells hitting has never been overly impressive to me. The majority of his big hits are against defenseless guys not looking at him and we have rarely (if ever) seen him stand a guy up or win a head to head battle. The most impressive part about his hits lately have been that they are coming along with him being more focused and not missing tackles.

    What is making him start to turn the corner and become a reliable safety over these last 2 weeks is that he is starting to play the ball and the result on Thursday was an INT with a nice return. I would venture a guess that he has missed at least 4-5 INT’s in his career with us because he was headhunting and not playing the ball.

    What he needs to realize is that there is changing the tone and changing the game. A big hit on a guy can change the tone and put some fear in guys, a big INT can change a game.

    I will probably never like the guy because he talks too much without backing it up, but I can respect his play on the field and with the last 2 games he has finally earned some respect and deserves credit for his performance.

  • Steeler-Drew

    Good job on “eating that” and “I’m ruthless and cold blooded”. Give me an f-ing break. His play doesn’t come close to measuring that talk. He has a ton of ground to make up but I guess in his mind 1 good game justifies running his mouth. As another poster said, he has a distortion from reality about how good he really thinks he is.

    I’m all for a good hard hitting safety. Loved D. Shell in the day. But the last time I checked it’s only a small facet on what it takes to be an overall good player. He’s had 1 interception on a deep ball in three years because he is always late getting there or could care less about making an interception. And we all know about the constant poor angles. Instincts, ball skills, angles, and open field tackling all factor in to making a good all-around safety not just laying a good hit that sends a message or jars the ball loose. I want Mitchell to succeed but he is practically dooming himself by being a little too proud of himself for 1 good game.

  • Bradys_Dad

    All of his peacock strutting BS needs to come to an end as well. When a 7 second 40 TE makes a first down catch and gets swung to the ground it’s not the right time to cross arms, strike a pose and primp to the crowd. Grow TFU Mitchell and play like a 25 million dollar professional. Like a true Steeler.

  • mokhkw

    Yea it’s hard to compliment Mitchell as a “big hitter” when smaller players who are carrying the football stiff arm him to the ground(Steve Smith) or run him over (Jarvis Landry). But I did see him make a few form tackles last week & stop the ball carrier dead in his tracks which he doesn’t usually manage to do.

    Can’t blame him for making the hits he should when the opposition QB throws up medicine balls designed to get your WR cut in half. But it seems to be the only big hits or plays he’s made in this fashion have been more the cause of bad QB play than MM doing something exceptional.

    Worst part about him getting this question and press is you know his ego will inflate & he’ll likely do something dumb again the next week.

  • mokhkw

    Next year & 2018 he’s slated to earn over $8mil per season making him the 4th highest paid safety in the NFL. That’s just wrong. For that $ we could sign Eric Berry.

    Terrible contract that the Steelers really need to get out of asap.

  • Bradys_Dad

    There’d be few tears shed with his departure. He can take Shamarko with him as far as that goes too.