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: Jan 17, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:14 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

You people crying about Harrison being suspended are missing the point.  Whether McCoy was considered a runner or a passer is irrelevent, in my opinion.  It's still Harrison purposely leading with the crown of his helmet with the intent being to injure McCoy seriously.  You cannot tell me with a straight face that he didn't have a choice but to lead with the crown of his helmet.  You are making Harrison out to be the victim here, which is ludicrous.  He's a dirty player.  He may have a ton of talent, but that just makes him a talented dirty player.  A one game suspension is too light.  He should be done for the year.  If you send a serious message that this kind of behavior will hurt your team substantially, then maybe, just maybe, Harrison will get the message.

Since: Oct 1, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:12 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I like the picture leading into the video clip.  It's the one where Harrison has his helmet down and ready to knock McCoy out right on the chin.  Anyone that can't see him leading with his helmet there needs to get their eyes checked.

As for those that aren't watching any more NFL games... bye.

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:10 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

After your third big offense, they should allow all the guys you've drilled the opportunity to drill you the same way without you wearing a helmet.  Then its all done and forgotten about.

OK that was stupid, I know.  But it made me feel good for 0.005 seconds.

Harrison is a major repeat offender, what gets me most is he complains about it like he's the only guy picked on.  Well stop being such a dirty player, and maybe the refs won't have a bias toward you. 

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:05 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Well.............. I guess I get to save Money........ Because I will never buy anouther thing that say's NFL! 
Not trying to be small..... But if I'm a Linebacker Now I have to figure out when a QB out of the pocket is a runner or a QB?
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! Then instant replay can make sure all the players are in the same place and blow the wistle and continue the play! Better yet even..... We can put the QB in a Tutu....... Put flags on their hips and just say any hit on a QB is a penalty! God forbid some crafty offence tries to run the wildcat! The NFL has already changed the rules so much against the D that it's allready a pass happy clone of the Canadian football League! Yes I'm an old schooler... When Offence won games and defence won Champainships! Now it's all about the SNAZZZZZZZ of the game so we can get higher ratings and make more money! Well I hope the Networks pay the NFL Alot! Because they have the last dime they will get from me! Because that's the only way a mere fan can complain!

     BTW...... No i do not want to see people get hurt or injured. And this may sound crazy but you could end that problem by taking away the Helments! Yep just look at rugby!  Give them a facemask like a baseball catcher to protect their face and say have at it boys! It would look a little funny at first, but I bet you would have alot less head injuries! To me a Helment is not protection....It's a Weapon!
And when I played thats how I used it! Now after practace when we were goofing around without helments and sholder pads...No one ever got hurt? Cept a ankle or two! But then it wouldn't be as violent a sport...The ratings would drop and rich people would make less money! What am I thinking!  :)    Merry Christmas Everyone even to Mr Horrable James Harrison...... I still like the way you play!

Since: Apr 1, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:00 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

@ steelerfan2000 I saw the play you're referring to. The announcers made no mention of it at any time during the broadcast even when discussing the hit by Harrison. And, I too find it difficult to reason how McCoy wasn't considered to be running the ball when Harrison hit him. As for Roethlesburger, the NFL seems to allow certain QBs different rules while the others are at the mercy of hits such as Big Ben's. Had that have happened to Tom Brady flags from everywhere would've littered the field.
The most disturbing to me is how the announcers continued to harp on Harrison's hit, however. I mean, I had just witnessed a far more vicious hit on Mendenhall moments earlier with zero discussion and here was one of lesser magnitude being talked about with words akin to there's no place in the game for something like that. What? Where was that talk a minute ago? It's obvious from that exchange the NFL has pointed out to the announcers in preproduction meetings to watch for anything Harrison does approaching an "illegal hit".

Since: Aug 19, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:56 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I agree with everything you say.  There were helmet to helmet hits in almost every game this weekend.  Yet only Harrison gets singled out for a suspension.  Probably because Suh was already suspended.  When did David Stern become commissioner?

Since: May 29, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:55 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Steelers fans are completely delusional.  The fact you are trying to justify Harrison's actions is humorous.  I never wish ill will on anyone, but in this case, I hope the next time Crosby steps on the ice, someone boards him and ends his career from concussions.  Maybe THEN Steelers fans will realize why you CANNOT lead with the crown of your helmet to a QB jaw or a WR.

The suspension has NOTHING to do with Goodell having it out for Harrison -- Harrison is the fool who continues to lead with the crown of his helmet to the head when there is NO REASON for it.  I'm really starting to think -- maybe Suh and Harrison have a bet who can get the most fines in their career or something.

Maybe a career ending injury to Crosby will help Steelers fans realize the fines and suspension is for the PLAYERS SAFETY.  All Major Sports have detailed medical studies now in regards to concussions.  They are taking steps to protect the players.  Harrison can't seem to grasp the fact leading with his helmet on a QB or WR IS NOT ALLOWED.  Don't think of the suspension being for the hit -- think about as a suspension for the utter stupidity on Harrison's part and maybe he will get it thru his thick head and Steeler fans won't have to deal with this in the future. 

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:51 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Suh was suspended for clear intent.  Haynesworth was suspended for clear intent.  Harrison was suspended . . . because he's James Harrison.

Suh was suspended for his past record as much as he was suspnded for intent. Haynesworth was suspended because he stomped on a guys unhelmeted head (which very clearly warranted a suspension). Now with Harrison, I think it's as much his past as it is intent as well...I mean, how many times can you be warned and fined before it's time to sit for a game??

Since: Dec 12, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:49 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

The players are the ones that wrote the rules for helmet to helmet. They must suffer the consequences and in Harrisons case he was warned prior to this hit.  I wonder if they will fine the Detroit player for grabbing the facemask of the QB on the last play of the game, whoops the refs forgot to call one of the more blatant penalties of the weekend, should the officiating crew sit out a game for negligence?


Since: Aug 10, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:46 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

It is sad to see what the league is turning into with special rules for QB's.  Yes, I understand that it was a helmet to helmet.  However, I watched this replay several times and have a couple comments.

1.  McCoy was scrambling out of the pocket, had the ball tucked in the running position until he reach the line of scrimmage, within 1 step he pulled the ball up and tossed it right before he got hit.  If he is going to scramble like that, I think he should be treated like a RB. 

2.  In the same game, Cleveland linebacker put a major helmet to helmet hit on Mendenhall during a goal line stand.  That hit was more of a direct helmet to helmet.  It was a very solid hit and a good play on a goal line stand.  That play helped keep Cleveland in the game.  No foul because that is what happens when you run the ball in a football game. 

  3.  Another play in that same game, a Cleveland defensive lineman threw a forearm into Roethlisberger's head.  To me (and I might be biased), that looked to be an intentional shot.   That hit drew a flag for roughing the passer.  So at this point, an intentional forearm to the head of QB that stayed in the pocket gets no fine, no attention, no conversation ( I can't even find the replay on the internet anywhere)...Compare that to Harrison, who hit a qb running towards the line of scrimmage with the ball tucked.  

4.  If the QB was Tebow or Newton or even Big Ben and he scrambled that way to the line of scrimmage, would the same hit draw a flag, fine or suspension?

If the NFL wants to protect the QB, I understand. Let the rules stand for a QB between the tackles (inside the pocket).  You might even convince me that a blow to the QB head is illegal if he rolls would be tough to convince me but I might understand the argument.  In my opinion, as soon as that QB tucks that ball to run, that player is no longer a QB and is a RB.  If that hit is not illegel against RB's then it is not illegal at all.  QB's already have the slide rule.  If McCoy wanted to save himself, he had to option to slide, throw the ball earlier, throw it away.  He intentionally extended the play to the very last instant and made the completion.  It was a great play on his end.   The cost of that play was that he was a half step away from being hit when he threw it.  McCoy saw Harrison coming.  It was not a blind side hit.  McCoy&nbs
p;realized he was not going to make the first down with Harrison coming at him.  

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