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 1, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 2:18 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

the NFL is getting very soft. If you touch a Qb, it's a 15 yard penalty...there is a difference between hard, aggressive hits and plays like Suh pulled on Thanksgiving and Haynesworth pulled against Dallas back in 2006. This league has turned into a pass happy league,it's almost like watching 2 people play a game of Madden 12.

Since: Aug 14, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 2:16 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

That's 2 steelers suspended for doing nothing wrong.  Big Ben wasn't even picked up or charged.  Now a player makes a poor play and get suspended.  If a punter only grosses 15 yards, 2 games.  If a QB only completes 40%, 2 games, 3 ints or more, 1 game.  Suck it!

Since: Aug 14, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 2:13 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

WOw they suspended a player for a foul during a play?  When are they going to suspend baseball players for striking out???


Since: Dec 3, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 2:12 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

When the penalty was called on this play, Jack Lambert jumped up, threw his slipper at the TV and muttered something about "effing pu$$ies" as he left the room!

Pathetic, is right.

Since: Oct 10, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 2:10 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I propose the following for the benefit of all those fans who fear the NFL is becoming too soft.  Let's lock all the exits from the field right before kick-off, and then turn a bunch of half-starved lions lose, ( you know, kinda like they did in the good ol' Roman Colosseum days ? ). That way the blood-sport lust of some fans will be satisfied, and the slower players will obviously be eliminated, making the game all that much more enjoyable for all.  See ?  A win-win solution all the way around. Wink

Since: Jul 27, 2010
Posted on: December 13, 2011 2:09 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Guys claiming to be "too manly to watch today's football" or "have played football their whole lives" -great. Watch something else, stop complaining (as a manly man shouldn't complain) and do what you are saying you will. Back up your words if you are so manly and stop watching. The rest of us realize that the rule "no head to head hits" is not that damaging to the game, is not an essential part of the game, and frankly, is not part of a fundamental tackle anyway.

Manly guys can accept change, won't whine, will do what it takes to win and help the team and will do what they say they are going to. Stop complaining or stop whining if you are such a manly guy. Learn how to deal with it and stop being a whiny pansy yourself. 

Since: Jan 10, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 2:06 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

He was no longer in the pocket and got hit the exact same way that every other RB and WR get hit every time they touch the ball.
I'm not saying the hit wasn't visious and maybe he should be fined.  I'm saying everyone needs treated the same.  There is too large a gray area for this to suspend him.  I can pull hundereds of helmet to helmet hit clips justfrom this past weekends games.
Every time a RB or WR is gona get hit, they lower their head and curl their body.

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 2:05 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

No, I am too much of a man to watch this pansey azs game the NFL is becoming.... You must be part of the new demographic the league is going after..Women and Fruits

Then why are you commenting here? Just trying to insult people is not making a point!!

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 2:02 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I have been playing football, and been around football all my life; I'm in my middle forties now, and I think its a damn shame that the quarterback has so much protection now, that you cant inflick a hard hit on them to make him tip toe or mess up his game for your team benefit; becuse you worrying about you may get fined or suspended. I think we worry about the players more than the actually game of football; because they are playing for the money now and not the love of the game. I feel like Harrison was only during his job and was punishing a guarterback for taking on the role of a runningback. It's wrong for him to be suspended. In my eyes he should have been fined at the most. The NFL has changed so much with their rules on the game; that I may even give up watching NFL football. Come on guys we are playing hard nose football with grown mens and not kids; this is the NFL.

Since: Nov 4, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:55 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

No, I am too much of a man to watch this pansey azs game the NFL is becoming.... You must be part of the new demographic the league is going after..Women and Fruits

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