Ben Roethlisberger has reluctantly weighed in on the NFL's one-game suspensions for both his Steelers teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Though both players ended up with the same punishment, the Steelers quarterback told reporters on Wednesday that Gronkowski's forearm to the back of the head of the Bills' Tre'Davious White after the whistle was far worse than Smith-Schuster's helmet-to-helmet hit on the Bengals' Vontaze Burfict during the play. He argued that the league was inconsistent to give them equal penalties.
"I didn’t think [the Smuth-Schuster suspension] was warranted. I thought maybe a fine, pretty step fine, something like that," said Roethlisberger. "I thought [the Smith-Schuster hit] happened in the context of a football play. It wasn't away from the ball. Wasn't a hit on a kicker, a defenseless player. It was a guy getting ready to make a tackle [against] a much bigger football player.
"I don't like to compare players and suspensions, things like that. But you look at what Gronk did and what JuJu did, they got the same suspension. I don’t know that that’s necessarily fair. But that's above all of our pay grades."
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Bengals safety George Iloka was also suspended for a hit to the head of the Steelers' Antonio Brown on Monday night, but reportedly got it reduced to a $35,464.50 fine. Smith-Schuster's suspension, however, was upheld and he will sit out Week 14 along with Gronk.
Both players should be back for the Patriots' and Steelers' massive AFC showdown in Week 15 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.