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Old 02-02-2011, 06:18 AM   #1
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Default Cook: Harrison's sarcasm crosses line

Cook: Harrison's sarcasm crosses line
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It might be the longest declarative sentence in the history of Super Bowl Media Day.

There's no doubt it was the most sarcastic.

"I don't want to hurt nobody, I don't want to step on nobody's foot and hurt their toe, I don't want to have no dirt or none of this rubber on the field fly into their eye and make their eye hurt, I just want to tackle them softly on the ground and, if y'all can, lay a pillow down where I'm going to tackle them so they don't hit the ground too hard, Mr. Goodell."

You don't think Steelers linebacker James Harrison is bitter, do you?

About the $100,000 in fines he received this season from the NFL office because of helmet hits that commissioner Roger Goodell and his staff believed were against the rules?

Bitter doesn't even begin to describe Harrison. "They took $100,000 out of my pocket," he said, glaring.

Using the pulpit he had on Media Day Tuesday at Cowboys Stadium, Harrison mocked Goodell at every turn. It was clear that was his intention from the start. He brushed off questions about making the greatest play in Super Bowl history when he returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown to help the Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. "I don't really remember too much about it." Asked if he has watched the replay on television, he said, "I don't really watch sports. I watch cartoons." Asked if the play changed his life, he said, "It didn't change my life at all. It changed the outcome of the game, but that's really about it."

No, Harrison couldn't wait to get to the Goodell questions. He didn't have to wait long and went after the commissioner with the same ferocity he's expected to go after Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Super Bowl XLV Sunday night. He talked of the league looking for "a poster boy" for its crackdown on helmet hits earlier in the season and "they just chose me because I was the most visible player." He said every decision the league makes is based on "whatever makes them more money." He said his trip to Goodell's office in New York in November for a meeting of the minds was "a waste of time. Nothing was really accomplished."

It was funny for a while, and you can argue that Goodell deserves all the scorn coming his way from the Steelers. The commissioner isn't popular with anyone in the organization after he unconscionably blind-sided quarterback Ben Roethlisberger by telling SportsIllustrated.com before the playoffs that "not a single player" came to Roethlisberger's defense during the NFL's investigation into a sexual assault allegation against him in March in Milledgeville, Ga. The story was released earlier this week, the worst possible time for the Steelers.

But Harrison went too far. His points would have had more validity if he didn't sound like such a fool with a few of his other comments. The most galling showed his cavalier disregard for the seriousness of head injuries in the NFL.

"I've had concussions at the pro level," Harrison said. "It wasn't bad enough to where I needed to come out of the game. I'll put it like this: If you don't tell [the medical staff], they don't know unless you get knocked out and you're laying there with your arms stuck in the air."

Nice, huh?

Medical research has linked concussions in football to brain disease, dementia and other maladies in players later in life. When asked if Goodell and the league are trying to protect Harrison from himself, Harrison scoffed, "I'm not worried about that. It's part of the game. We signed up for this. It's not a touchy, feely game. I've said it many times. I'm willing to go through hell so my kids don't have to."

It's admirable and honorable that Harrison is willing to do what it takes to support his family. Where he loses me is with his unwillingness to realize that one of his helmet hits could end another player's career and devastate that player's family. That's shameful.

Harrison was fined $5,000 for corkscrewing Tennessee quarterback Vince Young into the ground Sept. 19. The fine was deserved because it was a dirty play. Harrison was fined $75,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi Oct. 17. The league conceded that was excessive, reducing it to $50,000 in December.

Harrison talked of retiring after the Massaquoi hit, which seemed odd for a guy who wants to provide for his family. He said he met with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who sent him home from practice for a day to cool off. He admitted the retirement talk "wasn't well-thought out."

Harrison said he changed the way he played for a game or two but then realized it "wasn't conducive to me helping the team win." The fines continued to come. He was docked $20,000 for a hit on New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and $25,000 for one on Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Both fines were legitimate because Harrison led with his helmet.

Harrison said he believes comments he made after the Cleveland game Oct. 17 contributed to the severity and frequency of his fines. "I don't want to see anyone injured, but I'm not opposed to hurting anyone," he said that day. "There's a difference. When you're injured, you can't play. But, when you're hurt, you can shake it off and come back. I try to hurt people."

Of course, all anyone remembered was, "I try to hurt people."

"I think that contributed to me getting fined," Harrison said.

That's what led to that comment about putting down a pillow to make for a soft landing in Cowboys Stadium.

It was funny, sure.

But it also was sad.

"I've had concussions at the pro level. It wasn't bad enough to where I needed to come out of the game. ... If you don't tell [the medical staff], they don't know unless you get knocked out and you're laying there with your arms stuck in the air."
Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11033...#ixzz1CnrkfaIB
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Old 02-02-2011, 07:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: Cook: Harrison's sarcasm crosses line

Cook appears particularly incensed about this quote from Harrison, who is saying what it apppears a lot of other players believe.

But Harrison went too far. His points would have had more validity if he didn't sound like such a fool with a few of his other comments. The most galling showed his cavalier disregard for the seriousness of head injuries in the NFL.

"I've had concussions at the pro level," Harrison said. "It wasn't bad enough to where I needed to come out of the game. I'll put it like this: If you don't tell [the medical staff], they don't know unless you get knocked out and you're laying there with your arms stuck in the air."

Nice, huh?


Hines Ward said the same thing in a story issued this week on the rules changes - too bad Cook did not expand his column to address why Harrison's views on this subject appear to be shared by other Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward:
We don't know what they want. They're so hypocritical sometimes. They came out with these new helmets that are supposed to stop concussions. If they care so much about our safety, why don't they mandate that we wear the new ones? If they're so worried about what concussions will do to us after our careers, then guarantee our insurance for life. And if you're going to fine me for a hit, let the money go to veteran guys to help with their medical issues. To say the league really cares? They don't give a **** about concussions. And now they want to add on two extra games? Are you kidding? Come on, let's be real. Now that these new guidelines are in place, you'll see more and more guys lying to doctors to stay on the field. Contracts aren't guaranteed. If a guy's contract is coming up and he gets his bell rung—and if he has a concussion, he'll have to leave the game and maybe miss another one—trust me, he ain't tellin' nobody. Look at [49ers running back] Brian Westbrook. He was an elite player who had concussion issues, and he struggled to find work after the Eagles cut him. Guys saw that. I'm telling you, if you're a guy on the bubble or playing for your next contract, you're going out there and jeopardizing your life to get that payday


http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/20...ssions-players

The lead NFL reporter for The Washington Post writes a more balanced story on Harrison's comments than Cook does, as evidenced by these quotes that Cook did not use, presumably because Cook wanted to portray Harrison as a clown (although if Cook does not believe every decision taken by the league office takes into account its impact upon revenue, who is the real simpleton?)

Super Bowl: Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison stays in the spotlight for his hard hits

"I believe if you look at the film, you'll see guys that hit quarterbacks the same way that I do, if not worse, and they aren't flagged [for penalties] and they aren't fined either," Harrison said at Super Bowl media day Tuesday at Cowboys Stadium. ...

Harrison said Tuesday he has no problem with what the league is trying to accomplish but believes enforcement has been uneven. He cited the $75,000 fine he was assessed - later reduced by the league to $50,000 - for an October hit on Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.

The "rule changes are good for the game," Harrison said. "But there are certain things that you're going to have to take into account when you see a guy hit someone. You can't just have a flat-out rule that says if you hit someone in the head, you get fined. . . . That's what it was with me and Massaquoi. He ducked his head to protect himself, and I lowered my target area and we ended up hitting shoulder to helmet. . . . They're saying that's my responsibility to re-adjust to the adjustment that he had made at the last second."

Harrison, who finished third in the balloting for the NFL defensive player of the year, said he wasn't trying to injure opponents and maintained he and the Steelers play defense the way it's supposed to be played
...

He said the NFL enacts rules in its own financial interest, protecting marquee players such as quarterbacks, and is much less interested in safeguarding defensive players. Harrison said he changed his playing style for a game or two during the season but didn't like the results. He called a trip to New York to meet with NFL officials about the issue unproductive.

"You can change the way that you decide to hit someone if you have enough time to," Harrison said. "But the game happens so fast that most of the time it's a bang-bang play. You don't have time to adjust to the adjustments that guys make. Even when I went up there to talk to them, I said, 'So if I'm going to hit a receiver and he ducks his head at the last minute and we hit helmet to helmet, is that my fault?' They said, 'Yes, it's your fault. You will be fined.' "

Added Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, "We're going to continue to play like we've always been playing, because if we don't, then we're cheating this team and cheating this organization by not going out there and playing our style of football."


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...l?hpid=topnews

Last edited by Atlanta Dan; 02-02-2011 at 07:53 AM.
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: Cook: Harrison's sarcasm crosses line

I had no problem at all with what Harrison said. In fact I thought it was funny, very cutting and frankly appropriate - especially in light of Goodell's recent comments about Ben.

Did Cook not see this coming?

As far as I'm concerned, after Goodell chose this particular moment in time to throw Ben under the bus and given his penchant for using Harrison as some sort of poster-boy for his vendetta against hitting in professional football, I felt that it would be open season on him and so far not just Harrison but many other players seem to feel the same way.

You reap what you sow.

If Cook has a problem with what was said he should be taking shots at Goodell for lighting this fuse and not at the players whom Goodell has so openly targeted.
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:22 AM   #4
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Default Re: Cook: Harrison's sarcasm crosses line

Quote:
Originally Posted by FanSince72 View Post
I had no problem at all with what Harrison said. In fact I thought it was funny, very cutting and frankly appropriate.
in addition to being 1/2-humorous and 1/2 menacing, all of Harrison statements were thought-inducing, regarding how & what Ms. Goodell is asking of defensive players
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:33 AM   #5
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Default Re: Cook: Harrison's sarcasm crosses line

james is the man
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Old 02-02-2011, 08:40 AM   #6
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Default Re: Cook: Harrison's sarcasm crosses line

i watched the entire thing and i didn't have a problem with anything he said. In fact, i liked the sarcasm pointed at Goodell (the guy needs publicly called out ALOT more...), and i like both the way he turned the whole boring fest into a little bit of "funny" and i also liked when he basically bared his teeth (the place got quiet quickly..).
Very cool interview. Cook can go put his dress back on.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:02 AM   #7
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Default Re: Cook: Harrison's sarcasm crosses line

I don't like the guy, but the comments about gently tackling a dude and putting a pillow down under him was hilarious! I do believe that Harrison was singled out this year as an example by Goodell and that arguing hits and propsing 18 games in the same breath is insane, but I do believe there is a bit of responsibility the league has to protect players from themselves. There is a fine line between "providing for you kids" and then not being able to remember their names when you are 55 because you brain is mush.

Good luck to you guys in the game. I won't be cheering for you, but I do think it is going to be great.
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:18 AM   #8
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Default Re: Cook: Harrison's sarcasm crosses line

Laying a pillow down was too funny!! I thought Deion was trying to get Ben fired up with asking questions about Terry B's comments toward him. They all were enjoying the atmosphere especially Sanders and Brown. Media day is like a box of chocolates, right?
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Old 02-02-2011, 09:21 AM   #9
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Default Re: Cook: Harrison's sarcasm crosses line

The look in his eyes said it all.....
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Old 02-02-2011, 10:05 AM   #10
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Default Re: Cook: Harrison's sarcasm crosses line

Harrison was spot on. The only thing he left out were the no calls on the horse collar neck arm locks he endures every time he takes an outsude rush.

Goodell is an *ss, and deserves a major upcupance of epic porportions.
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