Blog Entry

League gets it right with Harrison

Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:07 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 11:56 am
Let's hear it for the NFL. It did the right and necessary thing by suspending Pittsburgh's James Harrison on Tuesday.

Harrison's hit on Colt McCoy didn't merit a suspension. It warranted a fine. But Harrison's series of incidents -- the fact that he's a multiple offender with illegal hits -- did qualify him for suspension, now more than ever.

Look, the NFL is trying to address head injuries and made it clear it will not tolerate blows to the helmet. So it fines players who do it, and sometimes they get the message, and sometimes they do not.

Harrison clearly did not. So that means the NFL must try something else to get his attention.

It just did.

Pittsburgh fans might see this as part of a grand conspiracy and their hard-hitting Steelers' defense, but they're wrong. Harrison and the Steelers have been warned again and again. And again and again they refuse to listen. That put the NFL in a position of having to respond -- basically, having to make it clear it means what it says -- so it just upped the punishment, and I'm all for it.

Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn't. But it had to be done.

I don't care what it means to Pittsburgh's playoff chances or chances of winning a division. I care what it means to the next guy James Harrison was going to clobber. Harrison didn't, and maybe he should have. The NFL warned him and notified him this was possible.

Harrison didn't listen. Instead, he dared the league to respond. So it did.

The NFL isn't trying to change his game. It's trying to change its game by keeping more players on the field, and what's so wrong with that? Nothing, that's what.

Category: NFL

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:11 pm

League gets it right with Harrison

First off, I'm amused/appalled by all these people thinking that the NFL is becoming a league of wusses because they don't want their players to get hurt.  I suspect most of the people who post here, and I include myself, wouldn't get up after a NORMAL NFL hit, let alone a helmet-to-helmet shot.  So, let's cut the flag football crap, because there's no way the league is even close to that.

Second, with regards to James Harrison, he's clearly been a headhunter his whole career.  He may be trying to curb the helmet-to-helmet stuff, but he comes in high every chance he gets.  He could easily have just tackled Colt McCoy in that situation, but he wanted to deliver a HIT.  That's fine if you get low enough with your head and pads, and clearly the whole Pittsburgh defensive mentality is to deliver hits.  But, Harrison often doesn't even try to get low enough.  He should know that if he can't, he must forsake the big hit and just tackle the opposing player.  And, it doesn't really matter if the opposing player is a QB or a RB, or a QB who looks like he's running the ball.  Harrison went in high, again, and he deserves the suspension.

Since: Dec 24, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:07 pm

League gets it right with Harrison

The only ilegal part was the helmet to helmet.  McCoy leave the pocket and becomes a runner which means Harrison can hit him, just not with the helmet.  Judge has it wrong, this does NOT warrent a suspension!!!!  THE NFL is again the NO FUN LEAGUE!!!!!  This is ridiculous!!! Can we PLEASE get another commissioner??????????


Since: Dec 20, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:59 am

League gets it right with Harrison

I'll disagree, DnZk, about the legality of the hit.  It was helmet to helmet against a passer (whether or not it appeared he was going to run, he DID throw the ball), therefore it is illegal and deserves a penalty.  It also probably deserves a fine so as to be consisitent with the current league policy.

I disagree with Judge however about the suspension being warranted.  Harrison had played over a full season (from around week 10 last year, through the playoffs, and up to week 13 of this season) without a personal foul.  That sounds to me like the DEFINITION of someone who has changed his game.  Despite his posturing, his on-the-field hits have clearly been different this year.  The hit on McCoy was illegal, but it was his first of the year.  I think suspending him sends the wrong message-- it says it doesn't matter how hard you work to change and live within the rules, you will always be singled out.  It tells Harrison that a year spent adjusting his style of play did not matter.  Rather than "make him follow the rules" I fear this will seem such an injustice to him that he will just begin ignoring rules completely.  And that is exactly what the league does not want to happen.  Watching this is like watching a clinic on how parents should NOT deal with a problem child.

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:58 am

A little over the top

If you've watched every Steelers game this season you would know that Harrison has been extra careful when rushing the QB, making sure not to lead with his head. This incident, while not ideal, is the one time this season he's had a hit that's looked dirty (and the fine seems more than justified). He's been making an obvious effort, and this suspension is unfortunate. To say he dared the league doesn't seem fair in this case.  This is a sport with lightning fast, 300-pound men. People are going to get hurt, there is no way to avoid it.

Since: Jul 21, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:50 am

League gets it right with Harrison

If you are going to say Harrisson launched himself then that is illegal.  Harrisson has do do it better than everyone else because he is being watched as a result of past performance.

Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:49 am

League gets it right with Harrison

Agree with Judge on this 100%. Harrison clearly drops his helmet and uses it as a torpedo on a consistent basis. He has no gripe. His tackling style is illegal in the NFL and has to change. In the NHL you used to be able to ride guys in to the boards and pulverize them, you are no longer able to do that and if you can't change then bye-bye. Same applies here.

Since: Oct 31, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:45 am

League gets it right with Harrison

Judge, you are saying something that is wrong in a lot of ways. Why hasn't an offensive player been called for leading with the head. If I were Mike Tomlin I would have told Harrison to let Peyton Hillis lower his head right into yours and then I would have challenged the spot of the foul so the ref can review the replay and see that a significant number of helmet to helmet hits are caused by the offense. So to say that the NFL is doing a lot to protect the players, I don't buy it. They are protecting quarterbacks (At least some of them). I don't believe it is a conspiracy against the Steelers and if you will notice, Im a Steeler fan. If the NFL were trying to fix the problem they would do several things.

1) Call some of these collisions of the helmet offensive penalties!

2) Get their own referrees to understand what's a foul and what's not! I cant tell you how many times I have heard Gruden and other announcers go, I just don't know what a defende is suppose to do. The NFL is its own worst enemy in creating so many judgement rules that cannot be consistently called even in the same game. Dont even get me started on contact down field and how some teams get the call and others do not.

3) Retrain NFL refs on facemask penalty after MN DET game some of that crew should be suspended a game. Detroit fans don't need to give many any crap, because at some point that call is going to go against you all, but I bet you wont be on your opponent's 1/2 yardline when it happens, yet you will still whine about it.

All in all, officiating in the NFL this year has reminded me of the 2009-10 years in the SEC.

So I will buy into the NFL is trying to eliminate using the helmet as a weapon when I see it called on the offense. Not going to agree or disagree about the suspension on Harrison. Regardless, these rules cannot be interpreted consistently by your staff so how can players playing the game at full speed adjust when they don't know the way the call is going to be called.

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:44 am

League gets it right with Harrison

I normally find I agree with Mr. Judge's articles but think he comes across as smug and matter-of-fact here. It was a wicked hit but the QB was running and ON or right at the line of scrimmage. So I think it is more grey area of the rules than the black and white  easy interpretation that Mr. Judge implies. Of course most times when it 'could go either way' it goes against Harrison, but if he'd just lowered his shoulder first this wouldn't have happened. Still the Steelers' fault, but hard to put up with the 'tsk tsking', even when it is from the normally fair-minded Mr. Judge. It is a shame to compare Harrison with the play of those who are low down dirty (stomping, c'mon?). Lambert would not have apologized.

Since: Dec 4, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:38 am

League gets it right with Harrison

I understand that the NFL is trying to cut down on hits to the head, but there is too much inconsistency in the enforcement.  If Harrison hits a quaterback or a receiver, he get a fine or now, a suspension.  If Ray Lewis hits someone, he doesn't get fined or suspended.  In the second Baltimore -Steeler game this season, Ray Lewis hit Heinz Ward, helmet to helmet, and knock Ward out of the game.  Ther was no penalty and he didn't get fined at all.  In another game, one of the linebackers from the oposing team hit Mendenhall, helmet to helmet and knocked him backwards a yard or two.  No penaly, no fine.  Seems to me that the Harrison and the Steelers are being singled out more than others for the same types of hits! 

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:37 am

League gets it right with Harrison

Eliminate helmets. That will stop hits to the head.

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