“From what I understand, once the quarterback leaves the pocket, he’s considered a runner,” Harrison said. “All the defenseless(ness) and liberties that a quarterback has in the pocket are gone and you can tackle him just as he’s a running back. The hit wasn’t late, so I really don’t understand why it was called.” -James Harrison
Um, because you tried to put the crown of your helmet through McCoy’s jaw. That’s why.
How that isn’t clear after last year’s game against Cleveland is a mystery. You know, the game in which he knocked Massaquoi out of the game with a concussion on a helmet to helmet hit. One in which he was fined $75,000.
But here’s what really gets me- for as much as the Steelers are a premiere organization in just about every way, instead of getting Harrison to understand the rule and abide by it, they simply cry foul and imply that the refs in some way have it out for them.
We’ve defended players getting flagged for dirty hits on this site a number of times. Sometimes it’s impossible for a defender to change his trajectory or angle to avoid hitting a player coming at him at full speed. This wasn’t one of those circumstances. Harrison waited, launched and rose to make his tackle. He had plenty of time to wait, lean and dip. It would have accomplished the same thing.
Harrison has to play his position, you can’t begrudge him that. The threat of his hits are what’s supposed to keep quarterbacks from moving up in the pocket and getting first downs with their legs. He can’t do that by using his helmet as a weapon.
If James Harrison hasn’t stopped headhunting by now, it’s never going to happen. All those fines, the ones that will supposedly keep him from paying college tuition for his kids, haven’t worked. So maybe the NFL should try to get its message across to Harrison more clearly. Suspend him. The league did it for an angry stomp. Shouldn’t repeated illegal hits earn the same sanction?
If the Steelers are going to try and protect their player by speaking out against the penalties, shouldn’t the Browns protect their players by asking the league for a suspension?