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