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: Dec 27, 2009
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:07 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

This just baffles me. Even analysts who usually appear to be level headed don't get this thing. I guess we have to see a couple of Hall of Fame QBs who can't feed themselves or talk before we understand what HAS to happen. It doesn't matter if it changes the game. The game will just have to be changed. No one questions a facemask penalty. If you touch it, you get penalized. The same mentality should exist for head-to-head contact. You do it (regardless of the circumstances) you get flagged. Harrison should get a 3 game suspension and 10 games the next time. There will be a next time cause this guy is CLUELESS.

But understand that Goodell walks a fine line. If he goes too far, he admits culpability for all the head injuries out there now (see John Mackey) and opens up the NFL and individual owners to astronomical liability settlements. If he does too little, he's just creating a bigger problem down the road.

And don't think that this is exclusive to the NFL, the NHL may be more in denial than the NFL. Will Crosby ever play again?   

Since: May 5, 2010
Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:41 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Harrison's arrogant attitude toward these punishments bothers me more than the actual hits he's giving out.

He's going to just continue what he's doing until he retires.

Since: Sep 14, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:32 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Dirty Team, Dirty Player, Steelers are cheaters. Maybe he should lay off the roids? Its clouding his judgment... that and his small brain.

Since: Dec 28, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:31 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

James Harrison is getting punished for everything he has done and said in the past. If anyone really thought the commisioner forgot about Harrison's comments during the lockout they are sadly mistaken. Goodall just knew if he waited Harrison would give him an oppotunity to exact a penalty and one the players union can't argue about.

The real issue is what happens on his next helmet to helmet? This is the Harrison plays.....and in the long line of big hits the Colt McCoy hit was not even the most vicious. So he goes high on Jermaine Gresham and he misses 2 games? Or Bolden drops his head at the last second and Harrison goes for 3???

The NFL has effectively nuetered Harrison and is forcing him to change his game! Paybecks a Beeeoootch. 

Since: Oct 14, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:23 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game


(1) Colt McCoy was running.  Correct
(2) Colt McCoy stands straight up.  Decides to throw the ball at the last minute before crossing the the line of scrimmage
(3) Colt McCoy throws ball. Correct
(4) James Harrison takes one step. Probably took more than just one step
(5) James Harrison puts top of helmet on Colt McCoy's chin.  Is jumping up in the air to throw over Harrison which causes Harrison to hit him square in the chest and catches the bottom of his facemask

Had James Harrison tackled the body ( he did) of Colt McCoy by staying low like every other successful defender in the NFL, this would be a moot point.  which he did.     T
he fact is that while Colt McCoy was standing  jumping straight up, Harrison still felt the need to go high      thru him as he would a running back...
there...fixed it!

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2011 11:56 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Your a moron.  One of the dumbest posts i've seen in some time.

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2011 11:53 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

He is a wanna be who hopes to be referenced to a great player like ronny lott was.  Live in your own shoes idiot.  Do you want to paralyze someone?  He's exactly the reason they made this overcalled penalty.  What's going to happen now is a db/lb is going to pull their away and hurt themselves,  Putting you head down, that's exactly what they try to preach.  What these players are now forced to do is dip their head, making them ther ones vulnerable.  Harrison is the reason for this tragedy that will happen in only a matter of time.

Since: Nov 8, 2009
Posted on: December 14, 2011 11:44 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Harrison is an outlaw who has no place in the game.  he's the poster boy for performance enhancing drugs.  he's a self-absorbed idiot who belongs in the WWE or UFC if he wants notoriety for running his big mouth or his vicious hits.  he has no respect for the game, the league, the commissioner, or other players.  good riddance.

Since: Jul 27, 2008
Posted on: December 14, 2011 11:29 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

finally someone with a clue

Since: Jan 10, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2011 11:04 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

james harrison has played clean good football this make him out to be some kind of villian is unnecessary...the quarterback should take some responsibility for this particular running outside of the pocket McCoy opended himself up to be hit...he got what he is a collision sport..there are have to let them play..i do believe in protecting players especially quarterbacks but this is taking it too far.

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