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 16, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:20 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I wish everyone would wake the hell up on this Harrison issue.  The jerkoff is as dirty as it gets, no freaking questions asked.  I get tired of guys coming on here and trying to defend him by critiquing and analyzing his hits like they're a linebacker's coach or something.  Go back and look at all of Harrison's hits that he got fined on.  He leads with his head on every one, AND HE MEANS TO!  If Goodell wanted to get the message through, this would be a multiple-game issue, or a 1 million dollar fine.  He needs to stop beating around the bush before Harrison severely inflicts some head trauma to someone and it ends up being permanent.  You would have been better suited in UFC 1 moron.

Since: Jan 31, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:17 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

The people posting saying QB's should expect this if they run is just plain BS. Yes it is a brutal sport, and of course if a QB runs he expects to get hit. But this hit was not only excessive and late, but Harrison loaded up to hit high and did just that-which makes the hit straight up dirty. Doesn't matter what the rules USED TO BE-this is what they are now-get over it.

These guys should have played when Dikta did or any of the guys in the 60's or 70's. Ben takes all kinds of hits and continues to earn his money and is not getting any respect from the officials.
You obviously didn't do your homework when you wrote this. Ask Mike Ditka how he feels about those hits now-he'll be the first to tell you he believes the increased protection is a good thing. This is a guy who heads up a coalition to try and get better benefits for severely injured, retired NFL players-he doesn't want to see self-serving plays where a hit lower on the player would have been less damaging and still done the job-not to mention within today's rules. 

Stop making this about toughness, that's a lazy argument. And as far as Big Ben is concerned, he's called Big Ben for a reason-he is bigger and harder to bring down than your average QB. If he takes a cheap shot he deserves the same protection from the league, but his big body getting hit doesn;t look as bad to officials-it;s just the way it is. Would be harder to hit him helmet to helmet though, wouldn't it? Volblitz, I think YOU should take the field in a tu-tu against the Steeler D-put your money where your mouth is, tough guy. 

Since: Oct 25, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:14 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

After several fines and all the warnings he just don't get it...

He is just a dirty player and he and Domodix Sui can hang out at the Cabret together, lol...

HE LED WITH HIS HELMET... DUH ,get a clue..

Also , McCoy had already thrown the ball before he hit him..

I heard him say he will not be at the Pancake social.. HAHA


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

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Harrison is a headhunter. He loves to use the crown of his helmet, to hit opposing QB's. He got one game and it could have been more. Also, did you read Tomlin's statement? "James has tried really hard to play within the rules". Are you freaking kidding me! He's trying hard to play within the rules?
I guess that play within the rules thing is optional in Pittsburg.
Just why do these players think it's ok to use the crown of their helmets? I played pee wee football, high school football and college football. Not once did I see or hear about any coach that would teach his kids to lead with their heads. As a matter of fact, they would go out of their way to tell players how dangerous it is. Not only for who they hit, but for themselves as well.


Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:09 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I keep seeing people claiming Harrison hit McCoy with the crown of the helmet.  Let's put this to rest, because that is just a lie.  What highlight are you guys watching.  The crown of the helmet is the very top of the helmet.  Yes, he hit  him in the head but it was facemask to facemask, which according to the rules is legal to do when you are tackling a player running with the ball.  And McCoy was a runner until he decided to throw the ball at the last second.  But Harrison had already comitted to making the tackle.  That was a perfect form tackle.  When Vick complained about being hit after throwing the ball, the league claim that it was Vick fault for taking some of the hits becasuse it is hard to tell if he is a runner or passer.  That is what happen to McCoy, he was running toward the line of scrimage and passed at he the last moment.  So tell me what was Harrison to do?  You are taught to read your keys and react.  Now the league want players the read their keys, think and then react.  And if you do this, you will be a deer in headlights.

Since: Aug 19, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:06 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Steeler fans aren't defending helmet to helmet hits. The angst comes because Dicktator Goodell is fixated on Harrson and the Steelers in general. All anyone wants is consistency in applying the rules and even handedness and fairness in punishments.  Today we have neither, which sucks.

Since: Sep 21, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:04 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I agree don't lead with the crown. But if you tuck and run your gonna get hit. If McCoy didn't look up it would have been a clean hit PERIOD. Harrison had no idea he was gonna try and throw. Just plain sorry officiating and he was not penalized for helmet to helmet it was roughing the passer who wasn't a QB at the time but a RB who tried to throw a pass.

Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:02 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

The THUGS are in Baltimore and Detroit. Besides I don't think anybody was suspended for almost poking Harrison's eye out and literally crushing his socket. Tired of the NFL's ways of being against some teams and letting others do what they want to do. 
Also in Pittsburgh, as confirmed by this story, which if you'll read to the end you'll see this is only the third player suspension in the last 5+ years. Also, for my edification, was Harrison's eye socket 'literally' crushed? I see that he was out 4 weeks after having surgery for a fracture. It seems by 'literally' you mean 'not literally'.

Have to agree with you about being tired of the NFL's ways letting some teams do what they want to do. Maybe the Steelers will clean up their act now that Harrison is being held accountable for his dirty play.

Since: Feb 16, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:52 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I think it's possible he was suspended for publicly refusing to acknowledge any wrong doing whatsoever.  He should have said the truth which is he shouldn't have hit him helmet to helmet.  He could even have said it wasn't his intention (although he'd be lying), but failing to acknowledge he did anything could not have helped his cause. 

Since: Oct 30, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:51 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

wow I stopped reading after you said McCoy is a good way I could believe whatever else you said lmao.

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