James Harrison Is Whining, Not Quitting

Anyone who seriously reports on James Harrison “quitting” the NFL is playing dumb. Nobody actually thinks the dude is quitting. I am a bit surprised that someone who has been spouting off at the mouth so vociferously since knocking two players out of last Sunday’s game would pull the drama queen card out of his wallet.  After reading his ignorant quotes for a few days, it seems like a really tough sell.  For those keeping score at home, James Harrison is attempting to paint himself as the poor little victim because he doesn’t know if his aggressive style can mesh with the rules of the game.  

This is a far cry from his feeble attempts to explain the difference between being hurt and being injured that he was trying to sell since Sunday’s game ended.

Don’t think for a second that I don’t understand that line of thinking either.  There is a big difference between hurting and injuring a player.  Let me help Harrison understand how his thinking is flawed though.

I would love to have Marcus Benard come flying around the outside this week, catch Drew Brees napping and sack him with a driving shoulder to the mid-section.  Hopefully he throws an interception or fumbles.  If it knocks him out of the game, so be it.  That is part of the game as James Harrison was saying.  I know the NFL didn’t fine Harrison for the Cribbs hit, but let’s talk about that one anyway.  Regardless of what they said about the Cribbs hit being “legal” it doesn’t pass the eye test that we have all grown accustomed to.  James Harrison led with his helmet, struck Cribbs in the side of the helmet while he was in the grasp of another defender and then Cribbs’ head ping-ponged back and forth as he seemingly lost consciousness.  He dropped the ball and dropped to the turf.

When we think of separating the man from the ball, that is not what we are supposed to think of no matter how many “JACKED UP!” segments we see at halftime on Monday Night Football.  A helmet or shoulder to the mid-section where the ball is secured is what we think of.  Knocking a man out so that he loses consciousness and then drops the ball isn’t a fumble as much as it is a finishing move in the UFC.  The spirit of the game is not to knock a guy out due to head injury.  As we have learned over the last few years, that is cheap, easy, and wholly destructive to careers via concussions.  The point is to hit him hard as you wrap up.  If you want to gamble and go for the strip while doing that, then go for it.  The only thing that you can’t do is go for another player’s head and use your helmet as a weapon.  Harrison did both of those things on both plays with Cribbs and Massaquoi.  Now he is pretending he is going to retire.

I have tried really hard to put the shoe on the other foot and imagine what it would be like if James Harrison was our guy.  I think that as Browns fans we are in a unique position to do that considering what happened with TJ Ward and Jordan Shipley against Cincinnati.  We had to learn that even in leading with your shoulder these defenders must avoid the head in order for it to be a good play.  That means getting there earlier so you can make a play on the ball.  It means being in a better position so you can get your hands in the way of him securing the ball.

I am quite confident that James Harrison with all his ability and talents can make the adjustment.  First though he has to stop the disingenuous whining and feeling sorry for himself.

  • J-Dub

    After he realizes he might be able to make $10 an hour in another line of work he’ll reconsider. Keep in mind, this is coming from the same guy who initially didn’t want to go to the White House after the Steelers won the Super Bowl. His reasoning? Because Obama wouldn’t have invited them if they didn’t win that game…

    Enough said, I hope he quits.

  • boogeyman

    I’d take him over Cribbs I know that much. Btw will Josh be returning some of that money he got this summer since he and many others thought he should be paid according to performance? Just curious.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Scott

    I hope that he’s in good standing at Kent – can go back and finish those classes needed for his General Studies degree.

  • Harv 21

    These guys keep getting bigger and stronger, and the helmets are, too. Players wearing leather helmets did not intentionally concuss themselves to intimidate.

    Eventually, some player will be left in a coma or killed. At that point rule distinctions between a potential receiver and ball carrier will seem absurd. Commissioner Goodell astutely recognizes that his sport is at a tipping point. Heard this morning that after 6 games in ’09, 14 players were out with head injuries. This year after 6 games: 35. If Goodell does nothing he’s permitting a skid toward dangerous injuries and gruesome cartoon violence that might soon epitomoze this sport, as opposed to a sport that includes violence.

    The players have a legit point: the subtlety of some of these head-shot rules can’t be consistently followed on the field at these speeds. Players are reacting with ferocious power at ferocious speeds. They are trained to go for the head sometimes. So here’s the smartest, most workable bright line: No head shots. By anyone. Ever.

  • Harv 21


  • Chris

    @ Harv

    Does this guy count?


    He led with his helmet, too.

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    I would like to think that, if Harrison was on the Browns and had knocked out Hines Ward and Mike Wallace during Sunday’s game we would still have the same amount of outrage.

    But … I’m reminded of a Mike Lupica column after the Yankees traded for Roger Clemens. He talked about Yankee fans coming to terms with rooting for someone they hated and came up with the phrase: “Our guy, their jerk.”

    So while I’d like to think that as Browns fans we’d be better than that, I fear we would be justifying the hits as part of the game the way fans in Pittsburgh are doing.

  • Dave

    “Players wearing leather helmets did not intentionally concuss themselves to intimidate.”

    However, it’s worth mentioning that concussion is a significant problem in rugby, which uses little-to-no head protection but is at least as rough-and-tumble as football.

  • Poor Brownies

    Man, are you seriously talking about whining? That’s all you Brownies do. Football is a dangerous, full-contact sport. If you can’t deal with it, maybe it’s you that should retire. Harrison is being fined for playing real football – the one that we’ve loved to watch since the league was first founded. The one that has led the Steelers to SIX Superbowls and the Browns to… well, you get my point.

  • TurkeyJ

    i am ashamed he is from the cleveland area

  • stin4u

    what a dummy.

  • Harv 21

    @9: is your comment consistent with your avatar? I saw Turkey Joe do that to Bradshaw. Stuff like that led to rule changes protecting the qb.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    Anyone else find it funny that Turkey J would be ashamed of James Harrison? :-)

  • jimkanicki

    James Harrison of the Steelers, who knocked out two Browns Sunday and was fined $75, is mulling retirement: “I’m going to sit down and have a serious conversation with my coach tomorrow and see if I can actually play by NFL rules and still be effective. If not, I may have to give up playing football.”

    Perhaps the most assinine statement ever uttered.

    Kimo von Oelhoffen must have sat down and had that same talk with Steelers coaches. He was certainly very effective when he injured Carson Palmer; Bengals have been dead since then. As for Kimo… since the NFL outlawed low hits… he’s is a free-agent.

    So James… yes.. you probably wont be as effective. Dont let the door hit you on the ass when you leave.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I agree with Craig and Harv…either Turkey J’s irony meter is turned up to 11 or it’s broken.

    I have to admit though, Cleveland fans might not be much better if the tables are turned.

    When I went to the final Browns game for Charlie Frye against the Steelers, the pre-game festivities included video highlights from Browns vs. Steelers from over the years. The video included that Bradshaw tackle. The crowd roared with excitement.

    When it comes to football, we are all Romans at the Colosseum, cheering on the Lions…the animal, not the terrible football team.

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    Granted the NFL took a long time to come around to this, but not sure why people are criticizing them now, considering that most of the quality discussion on the subject is coming directly from their network.

    As to the “difficulty” in following the rules, simplify for everyone: No head shots, no ball carriers dropping their heads, and to help with that, take off the hard helmets and get them the softer leather ones or something else safer.

  • Matthew R

    jimkanicki: I came here to post that very quote. Possibly the dumbest/greatest comment of all time. “If I have to actually play by the rules I may just quit instead.”

  • Chris

    If you can’t tackle people without using your helmet as a weapon, you suck at football.

  • http://www.60bpm.com/ Robbie

    @7 — The thing that p****d me off SO MUCH watching those hits on Sunday is that the guy did it, he wasn’t even flagged for it and even danced around about it.

    After the fallout from the TJ Ward hit, I’m sitting there wondering why the hell guys on the Steelers are commended for plays like that while most everyone else is demonized for it.

    (You can be assured that if those hits by Harrison were the only ones from this past Sunday, there wouldn’t have been such a big deal made of them, but with 4 or so guys leaving game with concussions, you kinda have to address it.)

    To be completely and totally honest, I do not lose sleep worrying about the health of professional football players. I don’t want anyone to get injured, but if they do… that’s just kind of the way it is and I hope it’s not a Browns player (though it usually tends to be). I don’t see how they’re going to enforce this suspension deal on helmet-to-helmet hits.

    I would just like a level playing field and I would like an even evaluation of things, though. For example, it drives me crazy to see guys on PTI pop boners about Suh trying to rip Delhomme’s head off one week and then call TJ Ward a dirty player the next and then be basically non-committal about Harrison the next.

    We all know the only way any of this changes is the Browns dominate the game for a decade and win a few Super Bowls, unfortunately.

  • ben

    Let’s not be Bengals fans about this. Hit was bad. Dude got fined. Moving on(?)

  • Ernie D.

    James Harrisons feeble attempt at justifying his actions are in the words of Iron Mike Tyson(Ludcris),I mean I’m a Steeler Fan and I was thinking don’t keep interviewing this head case. And if you give it some thought he sounds like he is or has been concussed…..within the last year. The video didn’t lie and he led with head….His fine should $100,000) large and a 2 game suspension without pay….yea without pay….he ain’t hurtin!!!!…I agree with your summation somebody will be injured badly and Harrison,and that cheap shot artist from the Patriots will say the samething…It’s football, that Mr Goodell and the NFL rules committee is no excuse for cleaning this up….CLEAN IT UP or somebody else will lose….Just rantin…..thanks

    Ernie D.

  • Pete


    Agreed. Sucks it happened to Browns players, I don’t want anyone to be hurt, but it is part of the game. To be perfectly honest, James Harrison is a grade a a**hole, but he’s also a good football player. If the tables were turned we’d be acting similarly.

    All that being said, I was pissed off as hell that the Refs didnt throw a flag on either play. Rules have to be applied equally, even to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Dont worry guys, our Quarterback saved someone from drowning, theirs raped two women. If there is any kind of higher power, this will all be made right in the end haha.

  • The Other Tim

    “Poor Brownies” Congrats on winning 1 more championship than Cleveland since the league was founded. (2 if you count the one the refs won for you vs. Seattle.)

  • The Other Tim

    Here’s a solution:
    No more suspensions.
    No more fines.

    How about a 35 yard penalty?

    See how many of Harrison’s mouth breathing teammates/coaches back him up when he costs them a few games.

  • bobby

    I feel like its a serious conversation about limiting the padding in helmets. Looking at hockey, there is significant statistical evidence that shows in college hockey, where they are required to use a full mask, there are much more head injuries compared to the NHL, where they wear a half shield. No way Harrison tries to lead head first if he feels the impact of that hit.

  • Rich

    The only thing that makes me sort of laugh is how some people think head injuries threaten the viability of the sport. How, exactly, when we have boxing and MMA can this possibly have an impact on whether or not football continues to exist. People keep talking about the day someone dies on the football field as if that will somehow be the end of all things. Hello, people die every single year in boxing. No one makes these people play football. No one makes them box either. If a player is so worried about a head injury, he doesn’t have to continue to playing. He can go get a job in an office or at a car wash.

    As I’ve said before, if you want players to stop leading with their heads, take the helmets off. That will solve that problem.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    Boxing and MMA require guys to sit out AT LEAST 30 days after a concussion, and sometimes as long as 90 days. Big difference between that, and “If you can’t get back on the field in a week or two, you’re soft.”

  • hans

    @9: hey, I think there’s a knocked up wife somewhere over there in Pittsburgh you could be beating instead of making yourself look like an ignoramus on a Cleveland sports blog.

    Harrison’s hit on Massaquoi was a blatant penalty that the refs didn’t call, and the league admitted should have been a 15 yard flag. It’s against the rules. P. E. R. I. O. D. With a period (.) at the end, signaling finality. Leaving no room for debate.

    Harrison plays cheap dirty football. He’s a weakling, and a jerk. A large pile of human-ish refuse. I hated him when he went to Kent, and I can’t stand him now. The fact that his coach claimed the hit was clean, when it is COMPLETELY AGAINST THE RULES OF THE NFL, shows how much intelligence flows through the town of Pittsburgh.

    But like Roethlisberger ‘touchdowns’ in 2005 and James Harrison ‘not’ getting an illegal block on his ‘TD’ ‘return’ against the Cardinals, things just seem to bounce the Steelers’ way. I guess someone’s giving some form of inappropriate favor to someone.

    Maybe the NFL will grow a pair and make the Steelers stop playing dirty cheapo football, and see how many more Super Bowls they win without it (0…)

  • http://www.roiratjournal.com Glenn from Berea

    My biggest problem with this whole thing is that the refs are not consistant. A head shot should always be penalized or never be penalized but not radomly penalized. No one benefits from that. Even in sports without helmets you can get head injuries. I’ve gotten multiple concussions playing soccer and …what was I saying? Oh yea, something about helmets. What was it? Man it hurts when you hit your head against the goal post trying to make a header.

  • Rich

    The notion that the NFL would cater to such a small-market team is delusional. Why make the Steelers great when they could focus their efforts on a team like the Bears or the Texans or the Giants? Teams with much bigger markets and a chance to have humongous followings if they started winning multiple superbowls.

    You are sitting out 30 days in boxing/mma regardless of whether or not you have a concussion. That’s just the nature of the sport. That still has nothing to do with my point. People die ALL THE TIME in boxing, and no one is talking about doing away with it as a sport. Not a single person has died in the NFL from an injury sustained through violence (I say this because players have died from heat exhaustion). Not one.

    Furthermore, while you might not box for 30 days after a concussion..what about the rest of the fight? In football when you get one, you go sit out for the rest of the game and probably the rest of the week. In boxing if you got rocked and get one in the first round..you keep fighting, which results in a far more dangerous situation that you have in football.

  • Rich

    And the idea that you guys would somehow feel the same way if Harrison was your guy is insane. Fans NEVER act the same towards their own players. See LBJ for details. Guy was a grade A jerk, and the entire city of Cleveland loved him so long as he was their guy.