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: Aug 10, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:44 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

"I don't know how you tackle someone and not use any part of your head."

Is it possible that James Harrison just isn't capable of playing LB in this league?  By his own admission, he doesn't know how to avoid violating the league's rules.  Shouldn't tackling within the rules established by the league, that just about every other defensive player abides by, be a minimum requirement for a defensive player in the NFL?  I'm not trying to hate on the man.......just asking a serious question.

Since: Jan 19, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:44 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Poetic justice will come this year when they overcome the fines and penalties to win Super Bowl XLVI.
Or lose to the Packers again after overcoming all the adversity, injuries, fines, etc.  

Saints fans must be pulling their hair out that the Steelers are missing one of their best defenders and Ben has an ouchie going into the 49ers game. The Saints need a 49ers loss for a shot at the #2 seed.

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:43 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Is this the Lingerie Football League?  Roger hates James Harrison.  It's personal.  He should not be involved in any disciplinary action involving Harrison from now on.  Let someone else decide, like a committee of former players.  QB's should just wear the red jersey during the games and put flags around their waste.  Harrison had been clean all year, and he gets no credit for cleaning up his act.   If a QB goes into a slide or ducks into the tacklers helmet, then how is contact avoidable?  Every player goes into the NFL knowing the risks.   Once the league started to wear pink to support breast cancer (a noble effort, but c'mon, pink!), then the league became a momma's league, and now takes the momma's point of view, which is "don't hurt my baby".  

Newsflash Dudestra, Harrison is being suspended for his full body of work and not just for whats happened this year! And even if you think McCoy ducked a little (which he clearly did not), YOU STILL CANNOT LEAD WITH YOUR HELMET!! Anyway, had he drove his head into his chest, he probably would have ruptured his freakin spleen!

You are right about one thing though Dudestra and thats the fact that playing in the NFL comes with risks, but playing against idiots who are simply trying to hurt you shouldn't be one of them!!

Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:43 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Facesmashers ... punching someone is quite a bit different than using your helmet to try and kill someone.

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:42 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

  1. He can do his job and tackle him anywhere else but the helmet. The helmet only takes up 5-10% of the places he cant tackle.  He knows the rule and he still doesn’t care.  If he is that stupid after he has been told time and time again not to hit players helmet to helmet than he needs to be suspended more games.

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:42 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

What gets me about the whole thing is McCoy's daddy. Yes I said Daddy. He had to chime in just like he had to be seen in the national championship game when Dareus knocked his head off. Dear, Mr. McCoy your son is in the NFL. Let him grow up and be a man on his own. He does't need you making press conference statements about him. Geez, some parents just can't let go.

Since: Sep 28, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:41 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:41 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Ndog_13 ..... yeah it matters none that using your helmet as a weapon can kill someone very easily. Guess when Harrison leads with his helmet and finally breaks someones neck and they lie there dead on the field maybe you Steeler fans will understand the rule and why it is there.

Since: Dec 8, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:38 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

The problem I have is that Richard Siemore punched a guy after the play was over and got no suspension. This is the third straight year he has commited such a heinous act and all he gets is a $30k fine?!!! How can you suspend someone who has gotten into no trouble this year a suspension and let a guy who punched a player nothing? It is absolutely absurd.

Since: Feb 2, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 1:31 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

He would be better off kicking someone in the nuts.  At least then he would deserve a suspension.  Never heard of getting suspended for making a tackle.  I guess next time someone grabs a face mask that practically rips off another persons head they should be suspended too......

I don't care if it was unnecessary roughness.  It doesn't deserve a suspension.  It wasn't that bad.  Much worse hits occur every sunday on different teams and there aren't even flags. 

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