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Harrison won't be suspended for harsh criticism

The Sports Xchange
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James Harrison of the Steelers won't be fined or suspended for his inflammatory comments and direct criticism of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell -- if the league's discipline policy bargained keeps final say on such matters in Goodell's hands.

The NFL had a ratified collective bargaining agreement by late Thursday, but some of the final details weren't immediately known.

Harrison apologized publicly for his heavy criticism of Goodell in an interview with Men's Journal magazine in which he referred to Goodell as a "puppet," "dictator," "devil" and other more colorful adjectives in an interview for the August edition.

"The interview that I did and the comments that I made about Roger Goodell were inappropriate, at the least," Harrison said. "They were way out of line, and I was speaking out of anger and frustration at the time. Any comments that I made that offended anyone, I apologize."

Harrison, the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, has been highly critical of the commissioner, from the increased emphasis on fines for illegal hits to his handling of the lockout.

"If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn't do it. I hate him and will never respect him," Harrison said in the interview.

Harrison was fined a total of $100,000 last season for illegal hits, a new point of emphasis from the league office stressing player safety and head-injury awareness. Teams with recurring offenders will be subject to fines next season as well.

-- WR Hines Ward, speaking publicly for the first time since his DUI arrest in Georgia July 9, said he will let the legal process unfold and believes he will be exonerated.

"I'm just leaving it in my attorney's hands," Ward said. "I can't really talk much about the situation because it's still under investigation and all that stuff. But I'm confident everything will work out at the end. That's pretty much all I can say about that. I'm just waiting for my day in court and see what happens."

-- DE Aaron Smith, 35, has not played since last October, when he tore triceps and missed the rest of the season. He says he won't think about his arm and whether it will hold up.

"I think after awhile you have to get past that point where you can't be worrying about it because you have to play football. I mean, when a man 350 pounds lines up across from you, you really shouldn't be thinking about whether your arm's going to be all right."

-- DE Cameron Heyward missed half of the first practice as he signed his four-year, $6.7 million contract as the team's No. 1 draft pick. He said his late father, Ironhead Heyward, was a stickler for being on time.

"He'd be saying, 'Get your butt in there and get to work.'"

-- "That looked like the same guy I was throwing to before jail. He still has it." - QB Byron Leftwich, who works out every summer with Plaxico Burress, the day before the wide receiver signed with the Jets.

QUOTE TO NOTE
"We aren't allergic to rain, but we are to lightning." - Coach Mike Tomlin, who had to pull his team off twice when a thunderstorm struck his first training camp practice.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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