Thank God for the Pittsburgh Steelers

David DeRyderCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 31:  James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is seen on the field during the game against the New Orleans Saints at Louisiana Superdome on October 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Saints won 20-10 over the Steelers.  (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Karl Walter/Getty Images

Call me old fashioned, but I like big hits and defense.

I enjoy running backs who fight for an extra half-yard rather than go out of bounds. Football is a sport where toughness and heart are supposed to matter most. At least, it was a sport where toughness and heart mattered.

Sorry, but the NFL's feverish focus on safety (really, just head safety) is ruining the game.

The in-season rule changes are unclear and misguided. What's the goal? To make sure no defensive player scratches any offensive player?

All of a sudden, concussions have become the equivalent of cancer; as if once a player has a concussion his career are quality of life are ruined. Really? How many concussions did Troy Aikman have? (Googling...) 10! He had 10 concussions and is still perfectly capable of doing play by play ever Sunday. Where's the former great whose life has been ruined by concussions?

I know I'm being a little extreme. Medical staffs across the league are more informed than they were since Aikman played. It makes sense to keep a player sidelined if he suffers a concussion during a game; I get that. What I don't get is hyper-obsession with preventing concussions from ever happening.

Enter the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ever since James Harrison was first fined for a hit that was not flagged, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been vocal in their criticisms of the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell. There hasn't been this much questioning of a commissioner since David Stern initiated an NBA dress code.

Harrison said he contemplated retirement after receiving the first fine. While it seemed excessive, is it really that ridiculous to imagine a hard hitter like Harrison walking away? I don't think that was charade for the media. Harrison has a job because he works hard and knocks guys out. Now, suddenly, he's doing something wrong? He's not the only one confused.

James Harrison is still in the league and has received three fines since being punished for his hit on Mohamed Massaquoi.  He hasn't been the only Steeler, however, to call the rule changes into question.

Normally reserved safety Troy Polamalu questioned the power sharing in the NFL. He targeted commissioner Goodell as being too powerful and reasonably suggested that a panel be created (to include current players) to judge which hits are worthy of fines. Completely reasonable requests. Beyond sharing a fantastic idea, Polamalu also demonstrated a sense of humor by saying,
"If people want to watch soccer, they can watch soccer."

Hines Ward is the latest member of the black and gold to come out and question the NFL's direction. His main point was that it is hypocritical to crack down on big hits for the safety of players while attempting to extend the length of the season.

"They don't care about the safety of the game. If the league was so concerned about the safety, why are you adding two more games on?" he said.

It's refreshing to hear players defend the way the game should be played. Football will never be 100% safe. I understand that some people have a problem with that; however, they should focus their efforts on youth and high school football first. Kids don't get paid millions of dollars to take on the risk of injury, NFL players do.

Let them play.