View Full Version : Harrison still stands by claim that disputed hit was legal

10-24-2010, 11:05 PM
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Harrison still stands by claim that disputed hit was legal
October 24th, 2010


He gave several Dolphins pats on the backside at the end of plays Sunday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium. He was one of the last Steelers to leave the visiting locker room after a 23-22 win, talking extensively with reporters.

Outside linebacker James Harrison may not have followed through on his threat last week to retire after getting fined $75,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.

But did he, in one sense, retire the player who relishes intimidating reporters and opposing players alike and put himself in the crosshairs of the NFL with some of the hits he has delivered over the years?

Well, not exactly.

Harrison admitted that he pulled up after a short completion to Ronnie Brown early in the fourth quarter instead of lowering the boom on the Dolphins running back.

Other than that Harrison, NFL’s 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, said he did not change his style of play in his first game since the league announced that it will more strictly enforce a rule that prohibits above the shoulder hits on defenseless players.

And Harrison said after the Steelers improved to 5-1 that he still feels like he did nothing wrong when he belted Massaquoi last week.

“It wasn’t a dirty play, it wasn’t a finable play,” Harrison said. “The guy was coming across the middle. My aim was to hit him in the waist area. He crouches down and we end up hitting helmet to helmet. I can’t re-adjust after I have re-adjusted my angle. I’m a professional athlete but I can’t do magic.

“You don’t have time to react after they’ve adjusted their angle, it’s impossible. To fine a guy because the other guy adjusted their angle, that’s just natural to crouch if you see a guy coming to hit you, you’re not going to stand straight up. You crouch down you’re going to get helmet to helmet hits so I guess they’re putting that on the defense to re-adjust.”

Harrison is still clearly ambivalent about where he and his game fit into a league that should either be lauded for making player safety such a high priority -- or pilloried for trying to legislate violence out of a sport in which it is unavoidable while profiting on the very hits it supposedly is intent on eliminating from the game.

As for Harrison’s take on the NFL meting out harsher punishment for what it deems dangerous helmet to helmet hits, the three-time Pro Bowler stopped just short of saying the league overreacted.

“I’m just going to put it on where there were so many hits that happened (last) weekend,” Harrison said. “If (his hit) was the only it that happened, it wouldn’t have transpired the way it did but there were three or four hits in a matter of 20 minutes. I guess they felt like they had to do something and they went ahead and got everybody.”