Blog Entry

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 5:27 pm
Harrison's physical style finally caught up to him. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The NFL announced Tuesday that Steelers linebacker James Harrison has been suspended one game for his hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy last Thursday night,'s Mike Freeman confirms.

Harrison can appeal the NFL's ruling, but based on head coach Mike Tomlin's comments Tuesday afternoon, the team is planning to be without him in San Francisco. 

James Harrison suspended
"We have to prepare as if he is not going to play, of course," Tomlin said, according to the Twitter feed. "We will move forward, James will move forward." 

More Tomlin, via the Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder: "We're disappointed. We're disappointed for James because we know how hard he's worked to play within the rules, [but] he has to be accountable for that so we accept the judgment rendered by the league office." 

While the Steelers are planning to be without their Pro Bowl linebacker, Harrison's agent says he will appeal. 

"James and I will have a discussion and figure out our next step," agent Bill Parise told the Post-Gazette. "The procedure would be to appeal. James and I will work through that and ask for an expedited hearing because we're dealing with a suspension. 

"My job right now is to continue to read this and talk to my client and he and I together will make an intelligent decision and we'll move expediently." 

It was Harrison's first roughing-the-passer penalty of the season. A year ago, he was fined $100,000 for flagrant hits on then-Titans quarterback Vince Young ($5K), Browns' receiver Mohamed Massaquoi ($75K), and Saints quarterback Drew Brees ($20K).

At the time, Harrison said "I don't know. I guess try and be more aware about the placement of my face mask. I don't know how you tackle someone and not use any part of your head, especially if you're trying to see what you're hitting. I mean, your face mask is going to touch them."

On Monday, Harrison said he shouldn't be suspended.

"I don't think it's suspension-worthy," he said after practice, according to Finder. "I don't think it's worthy of anything, but that's just my own personal thoughts."

CBS' NFL insider Charley Casserly beaks down James Harrison's hard hit on Colt McCoy.

The NFL determined that the hit was illegal because even though McCoy had tucked the ball to run, and had taken five steps before deciding at the last second to throw the ball, he's still considered a quarterback and afforded the rules that protect them. At no time during the play was McCoy, in the league's eyes (and according to the rules), considered a runner.

"They didn't even call helmet-to-helmet; they called roughing the passer," Harrison said. "He took off running with it and, at the last second, he like chuck-and-ducked. He tucked the ball and made like he was about to run. So I was going to tackle him."

CBS Sports' Charley Casserly said Sunday that ignorance of the rules wasn't an excuse.

"The league office told [Harrison]: next infraction, escalating discipline, including a possible suspension," Casserly said on The NFL Today. "Head coach Mike Tomlin went to the league office this year to do what I call 'a review of the rules.' From the league's point of view, there's no excuse for any Steeler not knowing the rules."

Sports Illustrated's Peter King thought there might be a chance Harrison would avoid suspension:

“A league source tells me there will be one major mitigating factor in deciding whether to suspend or fine Harrison and that is this: Colt McCoy took five full strides with the ball as a runner, leading Harrison to believe that he could hit him as if he were a running back. I believe he should be only fined and not suspended.”

So would Harrison change anything on the play that left McCoy with a concussion?

"Knowing I got a penalty, yeah I would have did it differently," he said.

Harrison missed four games earlier this season with an eye injury. Pittsburgh went 4-0 over that stretch with some combination of LaMarr WoodleyLawrence TimmonsJason Worilds and Chris Carter taking snaps at the two outside linebacker positions.  Woodley, who suffered a hamstring injury against the Patriots on October 30 and has been on the field for just a few series since, is set to return against the 49ers

Shortly after the NFL's ruling, Harrison tweeted: "Thank you to all my fans and supporters, I'm just going to move on from here and get ready for my next game." 

In all likelhood, that next game will be on December 24 when the Steelers host the Rams

Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark was fined $40,000 earlier this season for a hit on Baltimore tight end Ed Dickson (head coach Mike Tomlin was said to be furious about the punishment). Troy Polamalu was also fined, once for a horse-collar tackle in Week 1, and again in late October for using a cell phone on the sidelines during a game.

                                                                                                                                                                                          (Getty Images)
This is only the third time NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended a player since replacing Paul Tagliabue in 2006. Albert Haynesworth was suspended five games after stomping on the head of center Andre Gurode. Ndamukong Suh was suspended two games last month for stepping on the arm of a Packers player.

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Since: Sep 25, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 8:28 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

It amazes me that any of you can suggest that this isn't focused in taggin Harrison with this.  That any of you honestly believe that there aren't players, maybe teams, that are focused looking for any wrongdoing, is incredible to me.  The bias, intentional or filtered down from the fuhrer's office, is clear every Sunday in the NFL.

For you lackeys who have done nothing but parrot the common line of "He's dirty, he should be tossed," or "I know it was an illegal hit, so shut up and accept the punishment," try doing your own research.  No one is suggesting that Harrison has never made an illegal hit.  Nor has it been claimed that he's the sharpest knife the drawer.  But he is not as guilty as those of you espousing the above tripe want to suggest, but he is Commissioner-targeted and media-blasted.  How far does that go?  Or do you want to stay blind in an NFL that becomes increasingly gray in these critical areas?

Ben Roethlisberger had his nose broken last year in a game.  But I'm sure he wasn't actually hit in the face . . . except that the replay showed he was.  Oh, by the way, there was no flag or fine for that.  The Steelers are used to that, though, because Ben is consistently hit illegally without repercussion.  But Pittsburgh fans are delusional.

I'll take it a step further for you.  Defensive players have no grounding for where they are supposed to be anymore.  I watched the Patriots-Redskins game.  I watched a "sliding" Tom Brady take a hit that he frankly deserved because of the late concession.  The play, of course, was flagged, much to the meritable furor of the Redskins defense.  What happened next, though, isn't covered in the media.  The very next play, Brady ran again, and the first Washington defender to have him locked in his sights pulled off and Brady gained another five yards.  It looked for all the world like he hesitated just enough because of the previous play.  It cost them a continuation of the drive for the second play in a row.

Yeah, there is no reason to be questioning anything the league hands out in its rulings.

Stop being sheep.

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 8:13 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Since all Goodell cares about is revenue, Steeler Nation needs to boycott the NFL Network until we get fair treatment.  This was Harrison's first offense this year and didn't warrant anything more than a $25,000 fine.  The $40,000 fine assessed to Clark earlier in the season was outrageous and way out of line.  If Goodell cares so much about the integrity of the league, why didn't he suspend Belichick for documented cheating that lead to NFL titles?  After giving him a slap on the wrist, why did he destroy the tapes?  I'm calling for a boycott.  Instead of Occupy America, Occupy (or don't occupy) the NFL.  Who's with me?       

Since: Sep 30, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 8:13 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Its a penalty/fine if you inadvertently hit someone with your helment.. ok fine whatever.
isn't it also a penalty for going after a quarter backs legs? yet it happens all the time inadvertently or not, espcially with mobile QBs.

you get a good tackle on a qb and the qbs legs buckle and then your fined for driveing him in to the ground.

Seriously it is a wonder there are not a lot more penalties and fines.

I do notice a lot more 30 and 40 point games though.

Since: Sep 11, 2010
Posted on: December 13, 2011 8:12 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Haha, of course Harrison is going to say he shouldn't be fined or suspended. Don't think asking his opinion is very necessary...

Since: Feb 1, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 8:12 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Go watch flag football.  

Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:59 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Great tackle.  That was textbook.  I think a lot fans should grow some balls or go watch soccer.  

Since: Jan 7, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:57 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I think some players need to grow some balls and take him out the next time he goes helmet to helmet with one of their teammates.  If on the next play, everyone goes right for his knees and put him out of action for the season, he might learn that this is unacceptable.  I am actually surprised that Goodell had guts to suspend him for 1 game.  That should have happened long before this.

Since: Mar 5, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:55 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Harrison not going to help the team in a crucial game.........How bout this, James (LOL) (LOL) (LOL).  Yeah real funny NOW.  LOLOLOLOL

Since: Sep 21, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:53 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

You should obvisously know what you are talking about before you open your pathetic mouth CLOWN. The penalty was not for helmet to helmet. It was for roughing the passer and that is questionable at best. McCoy was out of the pocket and running with the ball and looked up to get rid of the ball and got hit hard. In fact the hit was at his chin which meant Harrison was already down and expecting to make a hit on a running player. He has been clean all year and this is a pathetic blow call by half a** officials and a fine by a sissy NFL commissioner who loves to promote hits like this to sell his product to the public. You can't have both.

Since: Jul 23, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:51 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Lets just be done with it and give them all flags for their waist,  don't like the direction the NFL is heading.

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