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: Mar 5, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:50 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

This guy is as stupid as they get.  Now, he's hurting the team. " duhhh...its da ony way I know how ta play."  He definately meant to lead with the helmet and hurt the guy,  Steeler fans...GET REAL!  Stop acting as dumb as Harrison.

Since: May 11, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:35 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Name me one other sport in which this kind of behavior over and over would be tolerated. Even at the college level,  Buckeyes suspended for almost the whole season for a tattoo deal?  This guy should be gone for good.

Since: Dec 13, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:24 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

He wouldn't tackle Steven Jackson, Hillis, or even Sproles like that.  Those of you who think he didn't do this on purpose are just stupid or have never played football. 

I think the rules are dumb, but they are the rules and he, just like that b*tch Hines Ward, are cheap shot artists according to the rules.   

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:19 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

It's a violent game.  Hits will happen, people will get hurt......  Imagine you have 1 sec not to violate a condition that changes within that 1 or 2 seconds, oh and the other person can change the situation - start giving in and you are 4-8 after 12 games and chasing the ball all over the field, but hey for some that may be ok to watch losers all year - If I pay $80-$100/game I want to see hits and defense not FLAG football.   I'd hit and/or expect the hit to happen 99 out of 100 times - unless everyone had flags.....Now airing the NFL network Flag football championships, Cleveland Browns vs Seattle Seahawks.  Will it be $75/ticket? 

Since: Jun 12, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:17 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Hypocrisy at its finest.  The NFL makes millions off of videos showing defensive stars like Harrison's big hits.  Then when Harrison does something that he has been doing his whole career, making violent contact with an opposing player, the league suspends him.  It is another example of the pussification of the NFL.

Look at the tape and you will see for yourself that Harrison was not attempting to injure McCoy.  He was just playing linebacker in the NFL.  Something that nobody on this thread has ever done.  Harrison has been honing the skill of playing violently probabl
y since he was a youngster in pop warner.  Every coach along the way applauded his violent approach to the game.  He succeeded at every level because of this type of play.  He is a four time pro-bowler and the 2008 NFL Defensive player of the year.  Why does he get these awards?  Is it because he plays like a puss....or is it because he plays football in the same manner as the greats before him...Butkus..LT...Singletary....La


The game is a game played by men.  Some of the hits make people feel uneasy.  Guess what....if that is the soccer.  Football is a brutal sport played by brutal men.  Why try to downplay the violence?  Perhaps we should take the helmets and pads off and let them play flag football.  By its very nature football is extremely violent.

My advice to Harrison is to sue the league.  For years they have accepted this type of play and now they are trying to change the way he operates in his profession.  He has received accolades for his violence in year's past and now he is getting suspended.  Like I said before, hypocrisy at its finest.

I can't wait until he comes back.  I hope he knocks the dog piss out of the first receiver that wanders into his area.     

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:12 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Put Flags on the QB's,  Everything is ok until a QB gets touched - provided Goodell wants the flags tossed, the penalties levied, and the suspensions handed out - There were at least 5 more hits in the league much much worse - no fines.  It's a game built on violence what the he** does everyone expect - oh don't touch him?  Put a flag on the QB's and call it the NBA2.........

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:04 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

You pretty much is hitting the nail on the head, Harrison is getting punish for reputation.   There was not a roughing the passer penalty because McCoy running toward the line. So he is been punish for hitting a defenseless player.  And Harrison was not using his head as a weapons.  He was reacting to a runners head toward him.  But because of him reputation and the violents of the hit it drew a flag and the NFL is reacting to try to  keep a clean image.  He don't deserve sympathy, but he can't be punish for playing the game physical.  And to to be fair we are watching these highlights in slow motion.  This play took less tha 5 second in real time.  So when you make a move toward a runner to tackle you can't control were your head will land sometime.  You must remember the runner is moving too.  Harrison have been fine 5 other time for hits.  And I must say 4 of them deserved to be fined.  But this hit on McCoy and his hit on the receiver from Cleveland last year are all good physical football plays.

Since: Jul 25, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 7:01 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

He needs to be suspended longer than that. I realize that sometimes helmet to helmet hits will inadvertently take place, but it should never take place as many times as it has for Harrison in only two years. Therefore, based on the season, it should be like this...

1st H2H: $25,000 fine
2nd H2H: $25,000 fine and a 2 game suspension
3rd H2H: $50,000 fine and a 4 game suspension
4th H2H: Suspended for the remainder of the season

If you reach 4 in one season, it is clear that you are showing blatant disregard for the lives of other players and you deserve to be suspended for the season.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 6:50 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

simplw way to solve this problem.  The next time the browns play the steelers simply line up for a running play and simply chop block harrison and break his leg, end his season and maybe his career.  that seems to be the steeler fans way of thinking any thing goes on the field so it should go both ways.

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 6:41 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I can agree with this, there were a lot worse hits than Harrirson on Sunday that went without penalty or fines.  But like you said some teams are watch more closely than others.  Goodel have a problem with teams that have players who play with that I don't care mentality. If that game was not a national televised game, this would not be a story.  It's all about the image of the NFL and making the game look safe to the audience.  But come on people, football is a violent sport.  It alway has been violent and always will.  I watched Aaron Rodgers almost lose hit helmet this week and I knew for sure a flag was going to thrown but was not.  It was a helmet to helmet hit and the guy from the Raiders has not been fined.  But this game was not nationally televised. 

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