Blog Entry

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: December 13, 2011 5:27 pm
Harrison's physical style finally caught up to him. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

The NFL announced Tuesday that Steelers linebacker James Harrison has been suspended one game for his hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy last Thursday night,'s Mike Freeman confirms.

Harrison can appeal the NFL's ruling, but based on head coach Mike Tomlin's comments Tuesday afternoon, the team is planning to be without him in San Francisco. 

James Harrison suspended
"We have to prepare as if he is not going to play, of course," Tomlin said, according to the Twitter feed. "We will move forward, James will move forward." 

More Tomlin, via the Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder: "We're disappointed. We're disappointed for James because we know how hard he's worked to play within the rules, [but] he has to be accountable for that so we accept the judgment rendered by the league office." 

While the Steelers are planning to be without their Pro Bowl linebacker, Harrison's agent says he will appeal. 

"James and I will have a discussion and figure out our next step," agent Bill Parise told the Post-Gazette. "The procedure would be to appeal. James and I will work through that and ask for an expedited hearing because we're dealing with a suspension. 

"My job right now is to continue to read this and talk to my client and he and I together will make an intelligent decision and we'll move expediently." 

It was Harrison's first roughing-the-passer penalty of the season. A year ago, he was fined $100,000 for flagrant hits on then-Titans quarterback Vince Young ($5K), Browns' receiver Mohamed Massaquoi ($75K), and Saints quarterback Drew Brees ($20K).

At the time, Harrison said "I don't know. I guess try and be more aware about the placement of my face mask. I don't know how you tackle someone and not use any part of your head, especially if you're trying to see what you're hitting. I mean, your face mask is going to touch them."

On Monday, Harrison said he shouldn't be suspended.

"I don't think it's suspension-worthy," he said after practice, according to Finder. "I don't think it's worthy of anything, but that's just my own personal thoughts."

CBS' NFL insider Charley Casserly beaks down James Harrison's hard hit on Colt McCoy.

The NFL determined that the hit was illegal because even though McCoy had tucked the ball to run, and had taken five steps before deciding at the last second to throw the ball, he's still considered a quarterback and afforded the rules that protect them. At no time during the play was McCoy, in the league's eyes (and according to the rules), considered a runner.

"They didn't even call helmet-to-helmet; they called roughing the passer," Harrison said. "He took off running with it and, at the last second, he like chuck-and-ducked. He tucked the ball and made like he was about to run. So I was going to tackle him."

CBS Sports' Charley Casserly said Sunday that ignorance of the rules wasn't an excuse.

"The league office told [Harrison]: next infraction, escalating discipline, including a possible suspension," Casserly said on The NFL Today. "Head coach Mike Tomlin went to the league office this year to do what I call 'a review of the rules.' From the league's point of view, there's no excuse for any Steeler not knowing the rules."

Sports Illustrated's Peter King thought there might be a chance Harrison would avoid suspension:

“A league source tells me there will be one major mitigating factor in deciding whether to suspend or fine Harrison and that is this: Colt McCoy took five full strides with the ball as a runner, leading Harrison to believe that he could hit him as if he were a running back. I believe he should be only fined and not suspended.”

So would Harrison change anything on the play that left McCoy with a concussion?

"Knowing I got a penalty, yeah I would have did it differently," he said.

Harrison missed four games earlier this season with an eye injury. Pittsburgh went 4-0 over that stretch with some combination of LaMarr WoodleyLawrence TimmonsJason Worilds and Chris Carter taking snaps at the two outside linebacker positions.  Woodley, who suffered a hamstring injury against the Patriots on October 30 and has been on the field for just a few series since, is set to return against the 49ers

Shortly after the NFL's ruling, Harrison tweeted: "Thank you to all my fans and supporters, I'm just going to move on from here and get ready for my next game." 

In all likelhood, that next game will be on December 24 when the Steelers host the Rams

Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark was fined $40,000 earlier this season for a hit on Baltimore tight end Ed Dickson (head coach Mike Tomlin was said to be furious about the punishment). Troy Polamalu was also fined, once for a horse-collar tackle in Week 1, and again in late October for using a cell phone on the sidelines during a game.

                                                                                                                                                                                          (Getty Images)
This is only the third time NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended a player since replacing Paul Tagliabue in 2006. Albert Haynesworth was suspended five games after stomping on the head of center Andre Gurode. Ndamukong Suh was suspended two games last month for stepping on the arm of a Packers player.

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Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:47 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

CincyBengals... you wouldn't know good, bad or dirty football if it bit you in the a$$. Your team is pathetic year after year. Harrison's hit was 100% legal. Goodell has it out for people who hit certain QB's. Goodell is Patriots, Giants, Jets & Ravens supporter. This is well documented. He wants east coast teams to win the Super Bowl. Goodell is horrible.

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:44 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

It doesn't matter what we say... Stern, Selig & Goodell are ruining sports right in front of our eyes. The owners should be really nervous., they stand to lose more than the players. Other leagues will surface, but these guys will lose their $$$$. Why they want to support these 3 Stooges amazes me.

Since: Jan 23, 2011
Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:43 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Everyone knows Pittsburgh plays dirty football, and this is a perfect example. 
I would love to see a list of total fines per team by the NFL over the last 4 years.


Since: Dec 14, 2011
Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:43 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

In light of this suspension, I would like to make a couple comments.  First, I recall during the game that the Steelers had the ball at the Browns goalline and Mendenhall ran the ball up the middle only to be blown up by Gocong.  I believe Gocong's helmet hit Mendenhall under the chin.  Last time I checked, the chin is attached to the head.  Seems like a case of helmet to helmet contact to me, but no flag was thrown, no fine, no suspension.  I was totally ok with the hit, but rules are rules, right?

Next, think about the hit Harrison took that broke his eye socket.  If I remember right, that was helmet to helmet as well, but no flag was thrown on the guy who hit Harrison, nor a fine or suspension given.  I am a Steelers fan.  I have no problem with either of these hits, but it's hard to believe that Goodell is not targeting certain players or teams.  If a rule is a rule, then it should be the rule across the board regardless of who commits an infraction. 

If you want to suspend Harrison for hitting McCoy, that's fine, but there could easily have been a fine levied to Gocong for hitting Mendenhall helmet to helmet.  I understand that he's a running back and McCoy is a quarterback, but aren't enough players getting concussions to make this a rule across the board regardless of position?

Since: Oct 1, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:42 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Ironically, the last two complaints are from Steeler fans.  I guess where I see green, you all see red.

Since: Jul 2, 2008
Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:02 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I hear that these rules are for the safety of the players, but I don't believe it.  If that was the case, how come nobody is trying to come up with rules to eliminate the types of hits that caused Kris Dielman to lose the rest of the season because of a concussion?  How come there are no rules stopping Adrian Peterson & Frank Gore from running through the line head down?  If Peyton Hillis had run over James Harrison with his head down, would there be a flag, fine, or suspension?  When rules are made they should be able to be enforced with consistency, practicality, fairness, & (excuse me) honesty...

Since: Oct 3, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2011 10:02 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

The call was not for helmet to helmet or hitting high. If you have to see where the guy is when he is moving you can't be too low or have your head down. Your an idiot for using that as you excuse.

If he launched and went helmet to helmet then maybe but he didn't he went straight up like you do every runner. You watch the hips and eyes. Not the feet. That is how you determine when and where to meet a runner. This is tackling 101 taught in pee wee certainly the pros can do it.

A flag OK but not a fine or a suspension. What next off sides is a 10k fine. Holding is 15, cmon let them play a mans sport and penalize within the rules.

Since: Oct 1, 2007
Posted on: December 14, 2011 9:41 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game


(1) Colt McCoy was running.
(2) Colt McCoy stands straight up.
(3) Colt McCoy throws ball.
(4) James Harrison takes one step.
(5) James Harrison puts top of helmet on Colt McCoy's chin.

Had James Harrison tackled the body of Colt McCoy by staying low like every other successful defender in the NFL, this would be a moot point.  The fact is that while Colt McCoy was standing straight up, Harrison still felt the need to go high on him.

Since: Oct 15, 2009
Posted on: December 14, 2011 9:10 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

I have posted this issue before saying that the NFL needs to adopt a rule much like basket ball where a personal foul during a game would get yu a flag and based on the severity of that foul possibly a fine.

But taking it a step further, more than one in a game would get automatic fines and more than three in a game would result in a ejecton from the game.

If it occurs in future games (IN THAT SEASON) then the penalty goes up.

Yes this means that referees that do not lke a certain player, that player may be at risk for unfair prfiling if you will....

But isn't that what GOoodell is doing now...  He is profiling Harrison. 

I watched every hit Harrison has made on other players, they showed them over and over and just like a few of the former player/commentators have said ....THIS IS FOOTBALL...IT IS A VIOLENT SPORT.....

Some of the hits warranted the fines others did not...
But if this is his first PF o fthis season then why the SUspension...COm'on Man

GOD..ell is an idiot and just like Stern will eventually ruin the sport...

Since: Oct 14, 2006
Posted on: December 14, 2011 8:49 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Correction - those who can see(without rose coloured glasses)that this was very much intentional and the intention also was to do major harm
That is utterly ridiculous....MCCoy was running UP FIELD with the football...if he was a Running Back it wouldn't have even drawn a penalty.......if McCoy was still in the pocket Flat Footed and Harrison launched himself at the QB then I could unerstand the sentiment....but MCCoy could have slid, run in a different direction to avioid the hit...or whatever....its not like he didn't see him coming!

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