On Wednesday, we learned not only how James Harrison feels about Roger Goodell but also his thoughts on teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall. None of the remarks were laudatory.
While this would have been a news story no matter the time of year, that we're four months into a lockout guaranteed it would be the lead news story for several news cycle.
So here we are some 36 hours after the initial story broke … still talking about Harrison. Except now, it's less about what he said and more about how those around him can help stuff the genie back into the bottle. (Frankly, it might be easier to just build a time machine.)
Harrison said that his comments on Roethlisberger were taken out of context (and Thursday night he released a statement apologizing for, well, everything), teammate Lawrence Timmons came to his defense, and even the author of the Men's Journal piece that started it all tried to provide Harrison some cover.
It was only a matter of time, but Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, has weighed in as well. And to hear him tell it (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), "A lot of [what Harrison said is] bravado."
Parise continued: "I think people have to be careful not to read that and think those statements are anything more than expressions of feelings, particularly in regard to the commissioner. The commissioner fined James $100,000 last year. What do you want him to say, he's my best friend? James is a tough individual, and that's the type of language he uses."
Wisely, Parise didn't make Harrison available to the Post-Gazette. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the paper: "We are not commenting on any aspect of the story."
|Harrison's Big Day|
Not until the lockout ends, anyway.
CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel thinks the commissioner (who Harrison referred to as a clown and the devil) should suspend the Steelers linebacker for a game and fine him $250,000.
"I don't think we should get caught up in his cultural language," Parise said. "I think people will read that for what it is and move on. I don't think anyone truly believes James thinks the commissioner is the devil."
Neither Roethlisberger nor Mendenhall said they were concerned about Harrison's criticism of them, and Steelers President Art Rooney II didn't provide much in the way of details in a statement issued Wednesday. "I have not yet seen the article in Men's Journal nor have I spoken to James Harrison about his comments," he said. "We will discuss the situation at the appropriate time, when permitted, once the labor situation is resolved."
The sooner the lockout ends the better for the Steelers, an outfit that can't seem to steer clear of trouble in recent offseasons. If anybody in the organization is glad to see Harrison hogging the spotlight, it's probably Hines Ward, who was arrested for DUI in Georgia last weekend.
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