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: Oct 1, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:49 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Volblitz, I understand your homer view.  However, don't lead with the crown of your helmet.  I repeat, don't lead with the crown of your helmet.  There is a reason that the players back in Ditka's age are fighting so hard for after football health insurance (which reflects in your ticket prices).  Don't lead with the crown of your helmet.  There is a reason that players with head injuries are shooting themselves in the chest with shotguns so their brain can be examined.  Don't lead with the crown of your helmet.  How many more times do I need to say it till all you "tough guys" get it through your thick skull.  Don't lead with the crown of your helmet.  DON'T lead with the crown of your helmet.

Since: Mar 30, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:47 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Coldsteel thats my question. Mendenhall  took quite a hit to the jaw with a helmet. So whay is that ok but its not ok to hit a qb. The Mendenhall hit was dangerous for both players. So how is that not a head hunt blah blah blah??
As far as rigged games goes they seem to call games in favor of one team.

Since: Sep 21, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:42 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. 

Since: Sep 21, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:39 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Dear TuTu Wearer,
I have an idea let's all put tutu's on the QB's and make them stand in the pocket. When you tuck the ball and run you are gonna get hit. I am sick an tired of these guys making millions of dollars and being treated like they are kings or something. It is football for goodness sakes. That was a BULLSHIT call. 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. Face it the NFL has it out for some teams unless you are a Raven then everything you do is ok. I guess they are scared they might be in a nightclub in Atlanta and things could happen. If a QB doesn't want to get hit then don't tuck and run and get out of the pocket. PERIOD !!!!

Since: Aug 10, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:34 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

'Bout time they gave the boot to this thug.  Problem is he won't even learn. 

Since: Nov 15, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:30 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

And this thug gets off easy once again.  When will he actually be held accountable for his behavior?  He's a headhunter, and if he goes after one more player he should but face a serious ban, if not for life.  There is no place for this garbage in the game.

Since: Dec 11, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:26 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Wow wHere's the indignation and the cry for protection, the blathering about helmet to helmet hits? On the goalline stand Mendenhall took a far more vicious head shot! NO FLAG NO FINE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I'm not upset about the fact no flag was thrown! I'm just amazed at the double standard on these boards. The player in question left his feet and launched at Mendenhall head first. So if you really are concerned about players safety rather then just hating on Mr. Harrison, why not post your thoughts on that hit? I know it was just a Steeler and their tough so we can turn a blind eye! HYPOCRITES! Hey Goodell need the 49ers to win this game for parities sack? Further evidence this smuck is rigging games for the racket boys and the foolish sheeple say yes, to this fool!

Since: Oct 7, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:25 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

i said before i agree with the one game. However lets be real here. Every defender in the NFL tries to inflict pain on every tackle. Those of you how think that NFL players don't try to inflict pain are stupid or have never played the game. Think about guys like Ronnie Lott. How many WR came across the middle when he was on the field? 

Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:24 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

My problem is the rival commenter stating that the art of tackling was lost sometime after the 1980's. I can only imagine these posts are from a younger generation who never saw anything but a few highlights prior to the 1990's. I was 5 when I went to Super Bowl IX with my Dad and was indoctrinated at a young age to football - and the Black & Gold. I vividly remember the abuse the offensive players in particular received in the 70's and 80's. And not just Steelers players, but all superstars from those times...
The difference between the two eras concerns less a change from the so-called art of tackling to hitting and more the game being played today by bigger and faster players. Offensive and defensive linemen from the 70's might not be big enough to play tight end or linebacker today. It's true that certain kinds of tackles that weren't unusual in those days have been banned, such as clotheslining, so they've made the sport safer in some respects, but the increased size and speed of just about everyone involved makes even the hits and tackles within the rules more violent, never mind the illegal hits...

In Harrison's case, he's not doing himself any favors with the helmet-to-helmet hits. In spite of all evidence, he, too, has a brain, and it's not just the opposing players that are getting hurt when he slams into them with his head. He seems to have a Tebowesque faith in his helmet's ability to protect him. If the Steelers care about Harrison at all as anything more than a replaceable pawn they can throw away when it no longer serves their purpose, they'll introduce him to some of the past greats who got their bell rung a few times, maybe also introduce him to the Duerson family. Harrison's agent mentioned that he and Harrison would 'make an intelligent decision' about what to do next, but based on what I've heard from Harrison I have my doubts that he's capable of an intelligent decision. Steelers management needs to step up here. Maybe they are already doing this, just not in the public eye. I guess we'll find out based on how Harrison plays going forward.

Since: May 29, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:20 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Doesn't make sence? Excuse me Mr Newton or Mr Tebo.... Is your intent to run the ball or are you still a QB? I Know what we can do! When a QB gets near the line of scrimmage we can stop the game and get the lawers out on the field and have the QB sign a letter of intent wheather he will run the ball or still plans to pass!

I have a novel idea -- Tackling him like a normal frickin' player with your shoulder and DON'T GO FOR THE HEAD.  You guys are talking like McCoy had put his head down and was running at Harrison.  FACT IS -- he had his head up the whole time looking for an open receiver, as a good QB should.

Instead of making excuses for Harrison -- maybe you should be questioning his intelligence as he KNOWS the league rules and CONTINUES to lead with the crown of his helmet on QBs and WRs.

I'm starting to think it is something in the water in Pittsburgh, as their fans are just as ignorant as Harrison is.  Get it thru your thick heads -- it isn't about a QB scrambling out of the pocket.  It isn't about the league coming down on Harrison.  It is because Harrison is a REPEAT OFFENDER.  I think I just read it is his FIFTH fine for the SAME INFRACTION.  How do you expalin that???  Is it just that Harrison has really bad luck??? 

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