Pittsburgh Steelers Under Fire for 'Distasteful' Sack Celebration in Wake of Damar Hamlin Incident
The 2022-2023 NFL regular season has officially wrapped up, but that doesn’t mean controversies aren’t still stemming from it.
Case in point, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a franchise that most NFL fans outside of Maryland and Ohio would consider a classy organization, was blasted for a “distasteful” celebration during the team’s 28-14 win over the Cleveland Browns.
First, the celebration in question:
Steelers defense celebrated a sack by performing CPR. Of all weeks… not a great look. Yikes. pic.twitter.com/ZvVPCwS6ya
— Gunz (@TheGunzShow) January 8, 2023
In the waning minute of the game, Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith was able to sack Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. An unidentified teammate then goes up to Highsmith to perform some simulated CPR to celebrate the sack.
Now, during normal times, it’s doubtful that anyone would even pay attention to that sack celebration. After all, as you can see in the upper left-hand corner of the above clip, the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets 9-6. That Dolphins’ win officially knocked the Steelers out of the playoffs, rendering the Steelers-Browns game rather meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
But, these are far from normal times.
That Highsmith celebration came less than a week after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a terrifying cardiac arrest episode on Monday Night Football.
While the news that Hamlin had made massive improvements begun circulating well before the Steelers’ game, many fans on Twitter were still quick to lambaste the Steelers for the “dense” celebration:
Did the @steelers defense really just do a CPR celebration???? How dense can you be?!
— Ryan Niemiec® (@Ryanimal) January 8, 2023
Steelers players doing a CPR skit… bit distasteful.
— mathew willoughby (@Ausbooky) January 8, 2023
Steelers doing CPR celebration on that sack, real classy fellas
— Paul (@paul_jatsyshyn) January 8, 2023
“Why on Earth would they even think to do this?” asked Total Pro Sports on Twitter. “Disgusting.”
As some Steelers’ fans have pointed out online, this simulated CPR has always been a part of sack celebrations across the NFL, before the Hamlin scare was ever a thing.
Others on social swiftly countered that, while the above statement is true, it doesn’t take a Rhodes scholar to be able to “read the room”:
Yup. That’s all I was saying. I’m not mad at him or outraged. Was just saying – yikes. Did any other teams do it today? They did it throughout the year too.
— Gunz (@TheGunzShow) January 9, 2023
Even if the Steelers “always do this” or not, doing it in the same week that another player almost died and had to have CPR on field is about as insensitive as you can get. pic.twitter.com/jKyrYOY6Da
— Paul Crisp (@pcrispy) January 9, 2023
And while it’s extremely unlikely Highsmith meant any ill will towards Hamlin with that celebration, if he did? The Bills will have the last laugh because unlike the Steelers, the Bills are playoff bound.
Speaking of, the NFL playoffs begin Saturday, Jan. 14, with the Seattle Seahawks going to San Francisco to battle the 49ers for the third time and the Los Angeles Chargers traveling to play the Jacksonville Jaguars.
On Sunday, the Dolphins will travel to Buffalo for a third matchup, while the New York Giants will face the Vikings in Minnesota. In a battle between two of the Steelers’ most bitter rivals, the Baltimore Ravens will travel to face the Cincinnati Bengals to cap off Sunday night.
On Monday, the Dallas Cowboys will travel to Tampa Bay to face Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
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