Harrison’s Postgame Comments Show Ambivalence, Ignorance

In a game that should be known for the return of Ben Roethlisberger, Colt McCoy’s first start in the NFL or even the continued exploitation of cornerback Eric Wright, we unfortunately have a Browns blowout loss that is blemished by the helmet-to-helmet tackling of Pittsburgh’s James Harrison. 

And while we have done our fair share of coverage on the topic over the last few hours, Harrison has done himself no favors with his postgame quotes on the topic – one which led to two concussed Browns receivers, two of the several players who were the victim of similar brutal hits in their respective games.

“I thought Cribbs was asleep,” said Harrison following the Steelers 28-10 win. “A hit like that geeks you up — it geeks everybody up — especially when you find out that the guy is not really hurt — he’s just sleeping. He’s knocked out, but he’s going to be OK. The other guy, I didn’t hit that hard, to be honest with you. When you get a guy on the ground, it’s a perfect tackle.”

So, if you’re following along at home, leading with your helmet – regardless of whether or not the player is deemed defenseless – and knocking the opposing ballcarrier out with said illegal it is the “perfect tackle” according to Harrison.  Rather than recognizing his shortcomings as a form tackler, Harrison celebrates the fact that he used his helmet as a weapon.  Twice.

Despite the league continuously claiming an initiative to limit concussions, each play in question did not result in a penalty.  In fact, the Browns were flagged for a delay of game penalty on the Massaquoi play as Alex Mack kicked what he thought was a fumble; the pass was deemed incomplete.  Even more startling is the support that Harrison’s tactics received from not only his teammates but his head coach.

“Today was especially good because he took out their top dog, really,” said James Farrior.  “He took out the biggest weapon they had.”

“He played good football,” said head coach Mike Tomlin. “That’s why we have so much respect for him.”

A few weeks ago, Harrison was fined $5,000 for slamming Tennessee’s Vince Young into the ground, a move that – once again – did not result in a penalty. In Week 4, Browns safety T.J. Ward was fined $15,000 for for a helmet-to-helmet hit on  Bengals receiver Jordan Shipley – a play which resulted in a penalty and a drive-extending touchdown. Rules state, as mentioned yesterday evening, that a player cannot launch and hit a defenseless player in the head or neck area with the head, shoulder or forearms.

Alas, as those coaching Harrison will not be showing him exactly what he did wrong, it will be in the hands of the league who – while he, along with the rest of those that delieverd said blows thi week, should receive a suspension – will likely fine the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.  You know, because $10-15,000 will stop the atrocious hits that occurred roughly 24 hours earlier.

“If I get fined for that, it’s going to be a travesty,” Harrison said. “There’s no way I could be fined for that. It was a good, clean, legit hit. He came across, I put my head across the bow. I could have put a lot more into that hit than I did.”

If anything, as I mentioned yesterday, it wouldbe a travesty if Harrison is fined.  He (along with Brandon Merriweather) deserve to take a week off after their antics this past Sunday.  This whole episode does not even delve into the officials who may need a bit of a refresher course themselves. Those that claim otherwise merely don’t get it.

Photo: Joshua Gunter / The Plain Dealer

  • http://www.dillonhamilton.com Dillon


  • MB

    Harrison should be fined and suspended for is ignorance and arrogance. What a tool. That helmet to helmet crap should be illegal and a personal foul. I hate the Squeelers, but I would not condone it from any team because it is way too dangerous. Something needs to be done.

  • CLESportsFan

    Sadly that moron Harrison will end up paralyzing somebody and only then will he not be so “geeked up”.

    I would not be surprised if the Steeler entire game plan was to take Cribbs out asap.

    And then after the game…Glorifying taking out the Browns best player? Simply disgusting Steelers.

  • Mike_964boo

    I can see the reason why TJ Ward has been flagged and fined, but can someone please explain to me how his leading with a shoulder is called a helmet-to-helmet hit?

  • woodsmeister

    That’s just how the Steelers roll. Comments like that will just endear Harrison to mouth breathing front-running thug-loving Steelers fans everywhere. If (a big if), the NFL comes down hard on Harrison, Steelers fans will be up in arms and the NFL has only themselves to blame for not coming down hard on them years ago, because, honestly, Harrison isn’t doing anything that the Steelers haven’t been getting away scot-free for for yrars. There is a double standard for the Steelers and the NFL likes it that way because the Steelers put fans in the seat and $$$$ in the bank with their cheap-shotting, vicious thuggery.

  • stin4u

    Probably nothing more than a fine here. If that were Tom Brady Harrison would probably have a week off but not for Josh. It’s sad but let’s get real, Cleveland and it’s players are barely a blip on the NFL’s radar at this point.

  • Harv 21

    Harrison’s “ambivalence,” such as it is, perfectly reflects the league’s policies of marketing the violence while trying to keep marketable players (quarterbacks) on the field.

    Head shots have been around forever, but the amount of trauma caused by stronger, faster players has increased. What do we want, “cool” cartoon-like head shots and jokes about tweeting birds, or player safety? Defensive players are coached up to be intimidators, but current rules ask them to instantaneously differentiate between a pass that is caught or bobbled or dropped. The rules require middle aged refs to judge, without replay and at game speed, whether a hit was helmet, forearm, or shoulder.

    The NFL could make all head shots as rare as an NBA brawl, very simply: 1) Make them all illegal – no head shots, period. Pick another body part. 2) Make the issue subject to replay review by both game officials and coach’s challenge. 3) Make the first violation a 3-game suspension, the second one a full season, and strike 3 and you’re out.

    What do we want? That is the question. If the current rules are about preventing head injuries while keeping the cool violence, they seem to be doing a lot more of the latter than the former.

  • http://www.60bpm.com/ Robbie

    @stin4u — This is what I’ve come to accept. It’s in the NFL’s best interest that the Steelers are competitive and their QB improves his scumbag image. The Browns are irrelevant to the NFL today and the only people who are upset today are Browns fans.

  • Garry Owen

    Assume you meant “drive-extending penalty and a touchdown,” as touchdowns don’t really extend drives. Forgive my nitpicking nitpickery.

    Not a huge fan of Peter King, but he has a pretty good assessment of this. King says, based on a conversation with his name-drop du jour, Rodney Harrison, that the fine does nothing and a one-week suspension does next-to-nothing. Instead, he says it should be at least a 2 week suspension. I think I agree.

    Of course, I think I may have been on the other side of this when we were talking about TJ Ward. My hypocrisy knows no limits.

  • Chris

    Perhaps someone needs to explain the rule to me in more detail, but as I see it, the hit to Cribbs was NOT a penalty, the “perfect tackle” to MoMass certainly was though, and if Harrison has a history and fines aren’t getting through to him, then he needs suspended.

  • stin4u

    It’s really hard for me to draw a line here. I don’t like seeing guys get knocked out of games like this on either side of the ball for ANY team, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy seeing the big hit in general.

    That being said anytime you enter a tackle or engage a player being tackled I don’t think it’s acceptable to drop you’re head like Harrison did. I doubt he intended to hit Josh in the head but clearly he was using his helmet to inflict damage as he entered the pile.

  • ben

    I think Chris Carter said it best this morning – you can’t take the hits out of football unless you increase the size of the field.

    Harrison is a [EXPLETIVE DELETED] and deserves to be [EXPLETIVE DELETED]. But I base that sentiment on the post-game actions/comments, not the hits themselves.

    It is football. Big hits are supposed to happen.

  • mike

    @9 (chris) – i would like to have the specifics of the rule explained as well. this analysis sort of helps:

    he emphasizes that a defender cannot “launch” at an opponent. Cribbs was on the verge of being tackled – was nearly down already. Harrison clearly “launched” himself at cribbs, leading with his helmet and made clear helmet to helmet contact. to me, if the nfl is serious about wanting to reduce head injuries, then they need to do their best to eliminate helmet to helmet hits regardless of the situation. frankly, they need to eliminate the subjectivity of it.

    it was my understanding that if you launch yourself at an opponent leading with the helmet and make helmet to helmet contact, then it is a penalty. that was precisely was Harrison did to cribbs.

  • J-Dub

    I’m trying to keep in mind how Brown’s fans felt after Ward’s devastating hit on Shipley. I thought it was a dirty hit, but I enjoyed the fact that we had a big hitter in our secondary. Ward and Mangini were not apologetic much like Harrison and Tomlin. With that being said, Ward got a lot of negative PR and a hefty $15M fine for his one hit that wasn’t as bad as either of Harrison’s. I’m guessing he gets a $25M fine but no suspension. Until they start ejecting and suspending these guys, this will never stop.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-6513-Cleveland-Sports-Examiner clevexaminer

    Lest we forget, this is the same guy whose kid was bit by a pitbull and he sided with the dog. I’m more upset at the NFL and their double-standard. The rules don’t seem to apply to the Steelers.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    Defensive players are coached up to be intimidators, but current rules ask them to instantaneously differentiate between a pass that is caught or bobbled or dropped.

    I disagree with this, slightly. The current rules don’t ask defensive players to differentiate between wrapping up and tackling versus going for the “kill shot”. On both plays, Harrison was NOT attempting to form tackle at all. On the Cribbs play, it’s harder to get super-upset because Cribbs’ head dropped suddenly right before the hit making it tougher for Harrison to line up not on his head. That said, the replay shows that his arms are nowhere near that tackle.

    Lost in all of this was the play where after a pass to Watson was incomplete (and clearly so) Troy Polamalu literally just dove at his knee. WTF is that?

  • Garry Owen

    J-Dub. I’m in rare nitpick form this morning, but I assume you meant “$15K” and “$25K.” Of course you did. I’m even regretting hitting the “Submit Comment” button . . .

  • mike

    DP – yes! i know exactly which play you are talking about. i was not sure which player for pitt it was but i saw that and immediately thought it was an illegal, late chopblock. the pitt player clearly dove, from behind, right at the knees of our guy. no flag.

  • Dan

    In my opinion, his comments after the game are almost a challenge to the NFL Front Office. He acknowledges he did it, and wants to see whether anything will come from it. If the NFL does anything short of suspending him, it will be the same old Steeler cheap shotting team. P.S. – I love that my possessor says I am spelling the name Steelers wrong, it must be a Browns fan.

  • Dan


  • IRISH5776

    Steelers D plays dirty most of the time. Nothing new this weekend. Steelers always seem to get treated better by the NFL and the officials. Rapistburger on any other team woudl of served the full suspension. Harrison on any other team would of got flagged for both of those hits yesterday. Hell Troy even dove helmet first in a players knees after a play and was not called. Hard hits are one thing…its another thing to try an injure a player on purpose. Guess thats the only way they can win. Injure the opposing teams starters so they can play against the back ups.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    I love all the internet tough guys who say things like “put on a skirt and watch golf if you don’t like big hits in football”. Well, that’s an easy perspective to have when you spend your Sundays sitting on your couch eating wings and nachos and drinking beer. It’s a completely different perspective for the players themselves whose safety is becoming ever increasingly more in jeopardy with these hits.

    I liked Harv’s suggestions. “Find another body part to hit”. If guys tried to tackle opponents rather than knock them unconscious, would that really have a negative affect on the quality of the game? I don’t know, but I think if the NFL is serious about their concern for player safety, it might be something worth trying for a while and seeing what happens.

  • Max

    @DP- its Troy Polamalu. Hes one of the golden boys for the NFL. He’s got diversity written all over him. Gotta keep him visible. Can’t allow a perception he’s a dirsty slimy low cown cork sucking cheap shot Picasso. He’s also allowed to jump snap counts and be offsides 3-4 times a game.

    When you are a Steeler, its a result of your preparation and dedication. To think you might actallu have done something wrong and jumped offsides? Unheard of. If anything, the center snapped the ball late. You know, because the Steelers are so good they know our snap counts better than we do.

    The NFL is slowly devolving into reality TV.

    Puck Fittsburgh

  • Mark

    As I commented on Craig’s piece last night, I don’t think much will happen to Harrison but his (and his team’s) comments aren’t going to help him. Another thing that pissed me off was all the discussions during the Sunday night broadcast about head hits and not one mention about Harrison!

  • http://www.heyhokie.com Vengeful Pat

    I watched this game with two Steelers fans who thought that at least one of the two Harrison hits should have been 15-yard penalties. It just seemed like the Steelers are getting preferential treatment from the refs (as well as the league if a fine isn’t issued). I know they are a storied franchise and they are loved by the masses, but that was pure crap. Harrison goes head-hunting, pats himself on the back, and gets patted on the back by his teammates and coach for taking out players on the Browns’ squad? That’s not just wrong, it’s disgusting.

  • magicman7977

    Harrison is and always will be a cocky thug, who gets away with it because is a decent defender. These guy’s egos get more and more fuel from their coaches and other stupid thugs who are ignorant to human morales. The league needs to be a lot more strict with these pre-Madonnas. Show them they can’t get away with it or severe fines and they will be more careful and probably control themselves a little bit more.

  • Garry Owen

    Crawl back into your hole, “John.” Go away. Go very far away.

  • Don

    I think its time for some revenge by the Browns in the next game. The tape obviously shows head hunting by Harrison twice. For the shot on Cribbs, he lined up his helmet at the side of Cribbs’ head, I’m sure with the intent to knock him unconscious.
    If the refs are not going to do their part by enforcing the rules, then the Browns have to man up and do the policing. The next game the O-line and running backs should see who can take Harrison out of the game by going after his knees. If their intent is to knock him out of just the remainder of that game or that game and the next, then this won’t be aiming to injure Harrison per his definition . . . so he should be okay with it.

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    If the NFL wants to stop this stuff, they need to take off some padding (particularly the front portion of the helmets) and ban tackling head-first. To be fair, some collisions (not the two yesterday) are caused by WRs/RBs dropping their heads down, so they should ban that as well.

    Who wants to bet that taking off the hard helmets would instantly reduce the collisions? Not only would linemen be forced to actually use moves and/or brute *arm* force, but there’s no way I’d put my head first if there was nothing to protect it.

    I wonder if anyone has ever estimated the tackle games played regularly in this country and compared the injury statistics like concussions. Sure, NFL players are more athletic and more dangerous, but I bet there’s almost none in comparison.

  • J

    lol @ this whole article. I hate the Steelers just as much as the next Browns fan but come on, quit crying. Believe it or not, Harrison gets paid to hit people. Yes, that is his job. I don’t think he should be fined or anything just as I didn’t think Ward should have been. This is football guys.

  • mike

    J – getting paid “to hit people” does not give a guy free reign to do anything he wants, like spearing or helmet to helmet hits. boxers are paid to hit people too – doesnt mean they can hit below the belt. rules are in place for a reason. Harrison’s hits were illegal and dirty. plain and simple.

  • John Black

    “Garry”…how about I crawl back into my “hole” called a job rather than sitting around nit-picking comments all day like you. Loser.

  • http://domainofthedisturbing.wordpress.com/ Daryl Brownell

    Harrison is a little b***h who bullies other players with his helmet and the NFL’s lack of rule enforcement when the Steelers are involved, plain and simple. I’d be more than happy to take a good shot at his head, whether he’s wearing a helmet or not.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny


  • http://domainofthedisturbing.wordpress.com/ Daryl Brownell

    It’s not about bench pressing anything, man. I just want to stick up for our guys who are getting hurt because nobody else seems to be. Sometimes the worst anger to feel is the kind you’re helpless to do anything about.

  • k

    Do not forget we play Pittsburgh twice this year. There will be ample opportunity to run crack-back blocks. The game polices itself. It’s not personal, Sonny, it’s business.

  • tikihat

    Wonder what Farrior would have said if he’d seen Ben laying face down and twitching after a helmet-to-helmet hit? Bet he wouldn’t understand Browns celebrating taking out his team’s best player, that’s for sure.

  • historycat

    “Today was especially good because he took out their top dog, really,” said James Farrior. “He took out the biggest weapon they had.”

    Ok Ferrior, if I’m Mangini then I’m posting this quote in the locker room every day until we play them next and then it’s open season on all their players. Injure them, knock them out.

    If Holmgren is worth his contract this year he sends the “highlight” reel of the game to the league office with a note attached. “If they don’t get suspended, we don’t either.”

    It’s game on. (I hate Pittspuke more after every game.)

  • Garry Owen

    Good comeback, “John.” I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from your erudite jab. Come back when you have something constructive (i.e., not racist or insulting) to say.

    [Thanks, WFNY, for keeping this place clean.]

  • http://www.cavstheblog.com Tsunami

    Can someone explain to me how the hit on Cribbs was legal? Because if it is, that means lowering your helmet and diving into another player’s helmet and never touching him with any other part of your body is completely legal. His hands never once touched Cribbs. How is that legal because he’s not in a “defenseless position”? What the heck is a defenseless position? How do you defend against a bowling ball drilling you in the side of your head that you never had a chance to see? Both hits were total cheap shots but at least on the MoMass hit he fake threw his hands up after the helmet to helmet to create the illusion that he was trying to make a legal play – he didn’t even do that on the Cribbs hit.

  • Garry Owen

    I think it’s primarily because it was a running play. It’s tough to legislate, let alone enforce, no helmet-to-helmet contact on those plays. A player is technically never supposed to launch himself at another player with his helmet (which I certainly think Harrison did), but there’s just too much going on when a RB approaches or crosses the line of scrimmage to ever be able to formulate or enforce a rule that would be proper and consistent. I think the hit on Cribbs was certainly intentional and vicious, but unfortunately met the letter of the law.

  • boogeyman

    It was because Cribbs was a RB and not a WR. Using your head to hit isn’t the brightest idea and clearly things need to be addressed but people have to remember this is a barbaric contact sport too. If things keep up put a flag on each hip and make it touch football!

  • http://www.cavstheblog.com Tsunami

    No, bogeyman.

    Lineman clash helmets on every snap. Helmets are going to hit.

    But lineman also put their hands up. They stand up, they try to get position. They are playing football.

    Harrison turned himself into a human head-seeking missile. watch the video! How is that hard to enforce??! You say, “oh, a guy just launched himself head first into another players head without making any sort of football play whatsoever.” In basketball, guys push under and around the hoop – they call it a personal foul. When someone is jumping in the air and they are pushed in a way that is not a play on the ball, it is a flagrant foul and possible ejection – it’s called “not a normal basketball play” and it’s pretty easy to spot.

    If you couldn’t tell that the “hit” Harrison made was nothing more than a divebomb attempt at Cribb’s head, you are crazy.

    Why can’t he just put his hands up and make a bone-crunching hit?

    In boxing you aren’t allowed to knee someone in the nuts – it just makes sense not too. It’s still a violent sport.