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Old 10-24-2010, 09:57 AM   #1
A Son of Martha

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Default Harrison won't be Incognito today

Harrison won't be Incognito today
By: Mike Bires
Beaver County Times

Saturday October 23, 2010 11:52 PM

FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2010, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) hits Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (11) during the second quarter of a an NFL football game in Pittsburgh. Harrison was fined $75,000 on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, for his hit against Massaquoi. (AP Photo/Don Wright, File)

A few days ago on its web site, Fox Sports put together an intriguing list called The Dirty Dozen. “Meet the 12 dirtiest athletes in sports” Fox boasted.

Among them were two NBA players, two from the NHL, two from Major League Baseball, two soccer players, a race car driver and a boxer.

There were also two NFL players on the list, and both will be on the field today when the Steelers play the Dolphins.

One of them, naturally, is Steelers linebacker James Harrison. He’s back on the job after a wild week in which he was fined $75,000, threatened to retire from football, got excused from a Wednesday practice because he was so stressed out and then issued a statement that said he would not quit.

The other is a Richie Incognito, the Dolphins’ starting left guard.

Today, there’s even a chance that Incognito may have to block Harrison.

Two of the most heavily-fined players in the NFL in recent years will try to get through a game without further damage to their reputations or wallets.

Last year in a Sporting News poll of 99 NFL players, Incognito was voted the dirtiest player in the league. The Rams cut him last December after he committed two personal fouls in a game against Tennessee. Besides getting cut, the NFL also fined him $50,000.

In 2008, Incognito was fined $35,000 for three different incidents, including berating a referee.

Harrison, arguably the best defensive player in the NFL since he became a starter in 2007, knows what it’s like to be fined for trash-talking the refs. He was hit up for $20,000 two years for ripping the zebras after a game in Jacksonville.

When I think of Harrison, I don’t necessarily think of a dirty player. Borderline dirty maybe, but not outright dirty. He’s just a hard-hitting defender who always plays with a nasty chip on his shoulder.
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He’s also a guy who has certainly found other ways to make headlines, whether it was for slapping around his girlfriend a few years ago or refusing to join his teammates at the White House in honor of their Super Bowl XLIII victory.

At times, I’ve been asked if I think the Steelers are tired of Harrison’s antics. My answer is always no, as long as he keeps playing linebacker at a high level.

Harrison was playing at a high level last week when he knocked two Browns out of the game with ferocious hits. For the hit on wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, Harrison received a $75,000 fine. The NFL no doubt jacked up the price because Harrison is a repeat offender (he was fined $5,000 earlier in the year for a hit on Tennessee’s Vince Young).

Harrison’s latest fine, as well as others issued during the week, has caused many defensive players in the league to rise up in protest. They’re wondering how in the world they’ll be able to do their jobs in the league watchdogs are waiting to fine and/or suspend them.

Well, as Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said, no one in the NFL is going to let up. The intensity will be there. Every player in the league, not just Harrison and others who were fined, just has to be a little more careful with hits in the head area.

So how Harrison fare today?

When asked if he had any concerns about Harrison’s mental state, LeBeau said, “None whatsoever.”

LeBeau expects Harrison to play just as hard and well he always does.

Then again, it could get interesting if he runs into Richie Incognito.

Mike Bires can be reached at mbires@timesonline com
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