Blog Entry

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

Posted on: May 30, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 8:26 pm
Posted by Ryan Wilson

James Harrison is known for a lot of things, almost all of them related to punishing poor souls who happened to be in possession of a football while in his vicinity. He's made a handsome living out of tackling people, although to his credit he does it better than just about anybody on the planet. Harrison's style of play has also caught the attention of NFL rule makers who, depending on your perspective, made an example of him to the tune of $100,000 in fines last season (small victory: the league returned $25,000, so there's that).

Turns out, Harrison is also thoughtful. He may disagree (vehemently) with the recent rule changes, but it's not because his intent is to injure and maim opponents and the NFL is now making that more difficult. It's that the rule changes don't make sense in his mind and he tweeted as much last week.

"I'm absolutely sure now after this last rule change that the people making the rules at the NFL are idiots."

Presumably, Harrison felt like he needed more than 140 characters to make his case so, like teammate Rashard Mendenhall (for completely different reasons), he started a blog.

"I want to make it clear that I am all for player safety. I don’t disagree with all of the rule changes," Harrison begins. "But come on…REALLY? Now you have to wait until a guy catches, or even worse, you have to let them catch the ball before you can even attempt to tackle him. Along with that, you cannot let any part of your helmet or facemask touch any part of them basically from the chest up. If you are following the letter of the rules exactly, now most tackles, if not ALL tackles can be flagged, fined and/or result in ejection from that game, or future game(s)."
Safety Rules

If you're able to separate Harrison the football player from Harrison the author, the man makes a good point. He was just getting warmed up.

"I understand the intent behind making the rules, but in their attempt to make the game safer, they are actually clouding what is allowable. Even the referees are confused. A close look will show you that the referees were calling things that were not even supposed to be called, and NOT calling things that were actually illegal."

Harrison also suspects that the name on the back of the jersey has something to do with how often a player is penalized. And he fleshes out his "people making the rules at the NFL are idiots" tweet with the following observation: "After my meeting this past fall with Roger Goodell, Ray Anderson, and Merton Hanks and some others, who I now have absolutely no respect for (to keep it PG), I definitely believe there is no equality in their enforcement of these rules."

Leaves little room for interpretation. Then again, as Shutdown Corner's Doug Farrar notes, "Harrison's point of view [is] quite a bit deeper than, 'The rules guys are idiots,' though it doesn't exclude that point from being correct as well."

Finally, Harrison acknowledges that the quarterback clarification rule (Rule 12, Section 2, Article 13) "is a great change," but closes with one more parting shot. "I wonder why the NFL is suddenly coming down so hard on player’s safety issues. I can’t help but think it’s not actually for the safety of the players."

Conspiracy theorists might tell you that the NFL is laying it on thick with the rule changes to not only show they care about player safety, but to say at some point in the near future, "See, thanks to our foresight, there are fewer concussions and serious head injuries … which clearly means we should expand the season to 18 games!" Even though, you know, fans emphatically oppose expanding the schedule.

“When it comes down to it, it’s an assumption of risk that you take when you play the game,” Harrison said during a recent appearance on ESPN's NFL Live. “If it’s not worth it to you, then you get out of it."

Makes sense to us. Coal miners face inherent risks associated with mining coal. You take precautions, make it as safe as possible, but at the end of the day, people in that line of work face danger every time they clock in. Some have long, injury-free careers, and some aren't as lucky. Some decide that the hazards aren't worth it and find other means of employment. That's all Harrison's saying.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
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Since: Jul 19, 2011
Posted on: July 20, 2011 6:27 am

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

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Since: Jan 17, 2009
Posted on: May 31, 2011 6:24 pm

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

American Football is slowly evolving into "flag" football. Safety has been an issue in football since the beginning. I'm sure it will be, till there is a way to make players stop hitting each other on every play. But, football is a contact sport! It was created as a contact sport. Meant to be played as a contact sport. Take away too many elements of contact in football, and you are going to lose a great deal of what made football fun to watch!

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 3:29 pm

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

It is hard to tackle somewone as it is, plus they put their head down befor you hit them. Who should get the penalty.

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 2:40 pm

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

There are dangerous situations in all kinds of sports and jobs. \
The players are not stupid and they know the chances of them getting hurt ex. broken bones, concussion, paralyzed. etc.
Volunteered to play not forced.
Military people get hurt in battle, this is no comparison, this is worse being in the military but we cannot stop everything around us. We cannot shelter ourselves and not live out our dreams.
We work in dangerous areas, coal mining, steel mills, construction, highway workers...
I understand where the NFL is coming from  but also the rules are so fague, what is or isnt a hard hit, and where was the hit.
Let the players play football.
James Harrison is a great football player and plays from the heart...

Since: Feb 10, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 2:27 pm

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

Follow-up! Yeah people want to change things that they think is for the better or just for the sake of change but I think sometimes you just have to leave things well enough alone! I think leaving it to the refs to be subjective is the biggest downfall to this rule and ultimately this rule change reminds me of the PC crap that the USA is screwing up our wonderful nation with. 

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 2:26 pm

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

How are the players dumb as dirt?  They may slide through college a little easier due to their ability to play, but they are educated none the less. Hell, Polamalu recently went back and finished out his BA degree even though, finacially, he is set for life...that takes dedication and intelligence. If you want to call an athlete a complete idiot, let's look at the NBA!

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: May 31, 2011 2:16 pm

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

Okay, correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't it determined that most of the serious injuries were due to the player hitting astroturf...which is just green fuzzy concrete? 
If the owners/rule makers were seriously concerned with player safety I honestly believe they would have taken that information into account and made a positive change by eliminating the astroturf.  It makes sense to me, where as the rule changes do not. 
I am a die hard STEELERS fan and I can say with certaintly that J. Harrison's hits that were fined were the most inconcistant thing I have seen in terms of penelties.  Look at the footage, it's obvious the refs are confused and somewhat targeting J. Harrison due to his "reputation". 
Not to sounds cliche', but if you can't run with the big boys, stay on the porch!  If you are coming into this game thinking you won't get banged up, well then you too, are an idiot! 
I will end with a J. Harrison quote "Lay a pillow where I tackle them so they don't hit the ground too hard, Mr. Goodell."

Since: Oct 21, 2007
Posted on: May 31, 2011 1:57 pm

James Harrison clarifies comments on new rules

I think to keep things in perspective and maybe understand Harrison, they have changed the game he grew up playing.  He was taught to be aggressive, go after the ball or the player who has it.  I don't think he is whining.  I do believe the refs were more apt to make the call on him.  I saw plenty of hits that other players got by with that did not get flagged or penalized.  It's hard to understand not being in his shoes, but I can imagine how hard it is to play with the changes they have made. 

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