Yup. Another James Harrison article. Why? In the words of 'Animal House' Delta Frat brother Bluto, "WHY NOT? (burp)"
There's a lot to digest in the recent Men's Journal article about Steelers' Linebacker James Harrison and some of it requires a serious dose of Pepto Bismol but I want to look at this from the angle of what Harrison may have right and what he may have wrong. First of all, many, especially in the Steeler Nation agree with some of his assessments and while I firmly believe in the right of free speech, I also believe there are consequences when you choose to exercise that right. A sad, but frank reality of America in the 21st century. Harrison did not goof so much in his intent as much as he did in the phrasing and choices of words so let's look at it at greater depth.
Harrison's dislike of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not without merit nor is it without company. Numerous reports by leading NFL talking heads have mentioned that 'several' NFL players contacted Harrison over the last 36 hours to thank him and congratulate him on calling out a man who is not well-liked in the NFL Players' community. Anyone recall those little meetings Goodell hosted during training camps last year? I can't remember one positive comment from a player following the meetings. These players share Harrison's concern that Goodell is changing the rules in the name of safety all the while doing it for the almighty dollar by attempting to add more games. Changing rules in mid-season was not appreciated either. This was a clear over-reaction by an 'in-over-his head' commissioner.
Under no circumstances can you go to the schoolyard mentality of name-calling the way Harrison did. If James wants to be taken seriously then this was not the way to go about it. Calling him a 'crook' and the 'devil' only makes Harrison look more foolish. Lots of us don't like him either James and we can say as much over a beer, you can't, you just can't go there.
I honestly have no problem with Harrison's comments about Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger or Running Back Rashard Mendenhall as they pertain to the Super Bowl. Both players were subpar and made crucial mistakes that led to the team's loss.
Many of the people reading this probably were fortunate enough to have a decent enough coach who taught you that if you have issues with other players, then you discuss those IN THE LOCKER ROOM!! Absolutely no need for Harrison to attack Ben and then make the comparison to Peyton Manning. First of all, if you're going to do that, have facts to substantiate it. As was pointed out by ESPN's Adam Schefter, Manning threw 12 INT's in his territory last year. Ben threw 3. Oh and James, you had 1 tackle in Super Bowl XLV.
Nothing Harrison rants about concerning the New England Patriots would be disagreed with by a large number of fans, especially those in the Steeler Nation. The Pats have had our number in the Tom Brady era and Harrison was further incensed by 'SpyGate' and the little or no action aimed at it by Goodell as a repercussion. He feels the Patriots received little to no punishment simply because Goodell wanted to spare the League further embarrassment which certainly would have come had he investigated more.
As if the Pats had any doubts, those are now confirmed that they are in the heads of the Steelers and specifically Harrison. By mentioning the Patriots in the tone he did, Harrison gave more ammunition to an already advantaged New England squad. Don't think for a second that Brady won't get in Harrison's ear when the teams play this season. Steeler fans remember Anthony Smith getting torched all too well by Brady and than hearing about it from the man himself.
In the end, Harrison will more than likely face a one-game suspension or a fine from his own ball club. I don't see Goodell touching this and because of his 'strong' relationship with the Rooney’s, I'm guessing he'll look to them for anything Harrison has coming. And I hate to tell you my fellow Steelers' fans, but the Rooney’s are basically Roger Goodell's minions. It was Dan that pushed for Goodell to get the job and what team did Goodell then have a strong enough relationship with to use as the poster children for illegal hits and 'player safety?' That's right, us. I will continue to cheer for James Harrison as a person and a football player and I completely get where he was coming from in this article. Problem wasn't the message; it's how the message was delivered.
Marc 'SteelDad' Uhlmann