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: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 6:07 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Really DUDSTRA! i am going use that sh*t you are spewing to fertilize my gardens cause i am sure you really dont think anyone is going to believe that BS! 

Law suits? REALLY? thats all you've got and a helmet manufacturer conspiracy? are you really Mel Gibson?


Since: Nov 21, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 6:03 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

love this~great to see that there are that many Steeler fans ! TOO BAD THEY ARE ALL ON CRACK~

you are the only fools defending this.. and all i know is just like advertised he wont be playing this week and that wil hurt in the wallet!

harrison is a CHUMP!

guess this makes me a hater... errr no a realist who is tired of listening to the homer fans!

Since: Mar 30, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 6:00 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

The NFL is a bunch of hypocrites.  They want to protect the QB, not the other players.  Why?  Because a great QB is a ratings draw.  Is the NFL promoting Willis McGehee and Brian Dawkins.  No it's Tebow.  It's Brady, it's Manning, it's Vick, it's Rodgers, it's Brees.  The NFL protects the QB because if we had to watch Matt Moore and Rex Grossman all the time, Ratings would suffer.  If ratings suffer, then the owners lose money.  And if the NFL doesn't make changes, they face possible lawsuits from players with brain injuries.  And what do you settle a lawsuit with?  Cash. 

If the NFL really was concerned with the players and post concussion syndrome, then they would utilize the best helmets that are available on the market that would protect players from injuries.  But they don't.  They have a contract with Riddell Helmets, so that's what they use.  There are better helmets out there, but the NFL has their hands in Riddell's pocket, so they won't make the change because they are concerned about a breach of contract lawsuit.  Again, a cash decision.

Also, a helmet doesn't do any good if the players don't strap their chin straps correctly.  Or the player plays without a mouthpiece.  Years ago, there used to be a penalty for illegal participation.  I have seen it called in High School.  It's called when a player participated in a play without using his mouthpiece, or he didn't strap his chin strap.  How about enforcing that rule, Mr. Goodell!   When was the last time you saw a player have his mouthpiece attached to his face mask?  But I can see why the players don't want to wear a mouthpiece.  It's hard to talk smack with a mouthpiece.

If the NFL wants to make changes, then make complete changes.  Cars have airbags in every car they make now, not just for the bad drivers.  Not everyone is capable of change, so the NFL and Helmet makers need to become the agents of change. 

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:50 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

So is Roger going to fine/suspend every player that causes an injury? I mean isn't that the reasoning behind the feminization of the leage.

Since: Jan 18, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:47 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

The old addage "put a skirt on them" is ringing truer and truer everyday...

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:37 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

You need to get a bigger TV, you must be watching a 3 inch screen.  That hit was not with the crown of the helmet.  And let me say it again.  The crown of the helmet is the top of the helmet.  He made a perferct form tackle on a QB that was running with the ball. You might be one of many who don't like Harrison for whatever reason.  And he have been on the end of a lot of illegal hits, but this was not one of them.

Since: Oct 20, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:28 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

That's a weak consequence for a repeat offender.

Since: Mar 31, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:27 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Hit him with shoulders first,  head into the chest....

Pretty much how your taught since Pop Warner, half of these clowns posting here must have never played a day of football in their lives.

Since: Mar 31, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:22 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

At no time during the play was McCoy, in the league's eyes (and according to the rules), considered a runner.
Really?  That is just stupid.  Just because he doesn't have the sense to protect himself and move like a runner,
doesn't mean he wasn't one.  I am sick of the pampering of this position.

Since: Jan 31, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:21 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

@Truth B Told-

you're delusional, my friend. Harrison put his head down and hit him with the crown-I just watched it again and there really isn't alot of grey area.  And the fact that he lowered his head and lead with it makes your point completely meritless. You're either high as a kite or a total homer if you're telling me it was a legal facemask to facemask hit.

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