Soft is not the best term one could use to define James Harrison. It implies that he's not capable of being the tough player we've come to know and love over the years. Toned down is the more appropriate term I think in this case; or perhaps a "thinking mans" player is something Goodell I'm sure would be all over. Anyways...
So however you take his comments below, he's clearly got in the back of his mind the fines that would get tossed his way and possible suspensions. It's a far cry from the "I am who I am" mentality that has been such a part of his game so far. Can he still be the impact player this defense needs him to be?
I would say that he had a pretty decent impact yesterday against the Eagles without blowing up Vick, so all hope is not lost. I think we'll get a better idea in the coming weeks as situations arise where he has a clear shot on a receiver or running back; if he pulls up just a split second he could miss the tackle or worse take the wrong angle and end up fined anyhow.
Or, perhaps he's spent this entire offseason getting mentality prepared to continue to evolve his game into a more "fine friendly" manner.
Harrison appeared on a Pittsburgh radio show Monday morning and offered a reason as to why he did not do his Deebo routine on Vick.
“I was nervous. I thought he might duck his head, and I might hit him, and I can’t take no fines,” Harrison said on 105.9 The X. “I was worried more about the fine. If at the last second he ducks his head, ducks down and we make helmet-to-helmet contact, it’s the fault of the defender.”
If that is the case, what can a tamed James Harrison do for the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Fines or no fines, bad reputation or not, Harrison’s willingness to perform as the bad guy has carried an aging Steelers defense for the past two years.
If he becomes guilty of thinking too much, he won’t play to his natural instincts which will impact his ability to play at a high level.
Nobody is saying that he should play dirty but Harrison’s gig relies on him playing mean. Playing mean comes with the understanding that the bad guy gets some dirt thrown his way. - PlayersView.net