Blog Entry

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

Posted on: May 30, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 8:26 pm
Posted by Ryan Wilson

James Harrison is known for a lot of things, almost all of them related to punishing poor souls who happened to be in possession of a football while in his vicinity. He's made a handsome living out of tackling people, although to his credit he does it better than just about anybody on the planet. Harrison's style of play has also caught the attention of NFL rule makers who, depending on your perspective, made an example of him to the tune of $100,000 in fines last season (small victory: the league returned $25,000, so there's that).

Turns out, Harrison is also thoughtful. He may disagree (vehemently) with the recent rule changes, but it's not because his intent is to injure and maim opponents and the NFL is now making that more difficult. It's that the rule changes don't make sense in his mind and he tweeted as much last week.

"I'm absolutely sure now after this last rule change that the people making the rules at the NFL are idiots."

Presumably, Harrison felt like he needed more than 140 characters to make his case so, like teammate Rashard Mendenhall (for completely different reasons), he started a blog.

"I want to make it clear that I am all for player safety. I don’t disagree with all of the rule changes," Harrison begins. "But come on…REALLY? Now you have to wait until a guy catches, or even worse, you have to let them catch the ball before you can even attempt to tackle him. Along with that, you cannot let any part of your helmet or facemask touch any part of them basically from the chest up. If you are following the letter of the rules exactly, now most tackles, if not ALL tackles can be flagged, fined and/or result in ejection from that game, or future game(s)."
Safety Rules

If you're able to separate Harrison the football player from Harrison the author, the man makes a good point. He was just getting warmed up.

"I understand the intent behind making the rules, but in their attempt to make the game safer, they are actually clouding what is allowable. Even the referees are confused. A close look will show you that the referees were calling things that were not even supposed to be called, and NOT calling things that were actually illegal."

Harrison also suspects that the name on the back of the jersey has something to do with how often a player is penalized. And he fleshes out his "people making the rules at the NFL are idiots" tweet with the following observation: "After my meeting this past fall with Roger Goodell, Ray Anderson, and Merton Hanks and some others, who I now have absolutely no respect for (to keep it PG), I definitely believe there is no equality in their enforcement of these rules."

Leaves little room for interpretation. Then again, as Shutdown Corner's Doug Farrar notes, "Harrison's point of view [is] quite a bit deeper than, 'The rules guys are idiots,' though it doesn't exclude that point from being correct as well."

Finally, Harrison acknowledges that the quarterback clarification rule (Rule 12, Section 2, Article 13) "is a great change," but closes with one more parting shot. "I wonder why the NFL is suddenly coming down so hard on player’s safety issues. I can’t help but think it’s not actually for the safety of the players."

Conspiracy theorists might tell you that the NFL is laying it on thick with the rule changes to not only show they care about player safety, but to say at some point in the near future, "See, thanks to our foresight, there are fewer concussions and serious head injuries … which clearly means we should expand the season to 18 games!" Even though, you know, fans emphatically oppose expanding the schedule.

“When it comes down to it, it’s an assumption of risk that you take when you play the game,” Harrison said during a recent appearance on ESPN's NFL Live. “If it’s not worth it to you, then you get out of it."

Makes sense to us. Coal miners face inherent risks associated with mining coal. You take precautions, make it as safe as possible, but at the end of the day, people in that line of work face danger every time they clock in. Some have long, injury-free careers, and some aren't as lucky. Some decide that the hazards aren't worth it and find other means of employment. That's all Harrison's saying.

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Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 9:33 am

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

You're comments are so rediculas and uncalled for.

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 9:23 am

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

If the NFL wants to protect wide receivers from big hits, then why not make it illegal for a receiver to leave his feet to catch a ball?  Why is it solely on the defender to not hit a defensless receiver?  Shouldn't the offensive player have some responsibility to not put themselves in the way of the defender?

Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 9:16 am

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

Steelers 11,

The fact that no Steelers fan will step up and blast the criminals on your team like Roethlisberger, Mendenhall or Holmes when he was still there makes the rest of the country look at the Steelers the same way it looks at the Raiders.  The six Lombardies are great and very commendable, but the fact that your team is putting winning above all else is sickening.   And now to back arguably the dirtiest player in the league is just ridiculous.  No player at any level was ever taught to dive at a player like a missile and to not wrap your arms to make the tackle.   In fact, coaches always screamed at us for not wrapping up.  Harrison is clearly launching his body toward the heads of other players with the intent to injure.  If he keeps up this foolishness, it will eventually come back to bite him and he will suffer a head injury and he can join Sid the kid in the eternal migraine world. 

Since: Apr 21, 2010
Posted on: May 31, 2011 7:08 am

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

If defensive players cannot lead with their head when they tackle, which anyone that has ever played football, it is coached that everything your body does is lead with the head, then the league needs to make a rule that prohibits running backs lowering their heads when the run as well.  If it is good for one, why not make it the good for the other.  NFL football is being ruined.  If they want to fix this problem, then it needs to be enforced at the High School and College level, that is where the players are taught on the proper technique of tackling.  Although he does lead with the point of his helmet at times, 99% of James Harrison's tackles have textbook form, the same form that I was taught in college and high school.

Goddell is ruining football!!! 

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: May 31, 2011 5:19 am

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

sounds like another case of Ohio jealousy to me "buck"

Since: Mar 10, 2010
Posted on: May 31, 2011 4:24 am

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

agreed.  Harrison was never considered a prospect until he became the dirtiest player in the nfl.
without the ability to cheat, he has no game.

Since: Mar 10, 2010
Posted on: May 31, 2011 4:22 am

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

James Harrison is what is wrong with America.  He talks before he thinks.  He reacts before he uses common sense.
JH is in the media and public eye.  His tough guy comments are instantly archaic.

The retired, mamed and weak elderly statesman of the game...the hall of famers, with chronic back, head and spine injuries are idiots?

JH has no respect for the business of the game, the fellow players or the ownership\management of the game.

The best way to deal with JH is to cut him.  Let him become that abusive, violent guy on the street.

Society will jail him....where he belongs.  Macho man can deal with the soap on a rope crowd.

Since: May 25, 2008
Posted on: May 31, 2011 12:08 am

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

A brief thought on the subject of how a football player should not "lead with his head" when making a tackle... if you're running full speed at someone, what part of your body is going to be in front?  I'm trying to imagine how a man can run without leaning forward, and the best I can do is picture someone power walking... doesn't exactly scream 'football' to me.  By the letter of the law, which is the exact point Harrison was making, you can't tackle someone and not have some part of your facemask make contact with them.  The intent of the rule is to avoid spearing players or head injuries, but the wording of the rule (and what else does a referee have to go on?) creates an at-best muddy picture of what tackling should look like.  

Since: May 30, 2011
Posted on: May 30, 2011 11:42 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Nov 17, 2006
Posted on: May 30, 2011 11:41 pm

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

James Harrison is pretty smart. He's using all sorts of legal terminology and common sense that owners and people SHOULD understand. The part of his statement that I most relate to is the part dealing with the assumption of the risk. Players want more and more money but they want more and more safety. Part of the reason people make so much money to play pro football is to take on that risk. If there wasn't much injury risk in NFL football I can guarantee you the NFL landscape would be A LOT different- i.e. i would say that a large majority of the people in the NFL aren't even close to the most talented- they are simply those that are the most talented of those individuals who are crazy enough to risk a lifetime of health problems and possible death/permanent paralysis for the possibility of a big paycheck. In other words, playing pro football is a BRUTAL PROPOSITION. SO what Harrison says makes a lot of sense. Football= risk. Without the risk there is a lot less incentive to pay these guys the big bucks. If guys don't want to take the risk of serious injury then DON'T PLAY PRO FOOTBALL. IT'S THAT SIMPLE. This isn't rocket science.

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