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: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:27 am

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Harrison got what he deserved.  He's a professional and knows the rules and now the consequences could be dire missing a game vs a tough 49ers team in their home.  If it costs them a division title as well, then maybe he'll get the picture.  If he'd learn how to tackle or if Tomlin leaned on him at all the Steelers wouldn't be in this position.

He can appeal all he wants, but we all know Goodell doesn't change his decisions.

Since: Dec 1, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:22 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

tigercoach5 - agreed, it is bad for business to have your starting QB not on the field.  

Salary cap, as evidenced this year most teams have one QB, they do not have a servicable No. 2.  

In the NFL losing your starting QB is bad for business.

Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:15 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

theburghrules, 99% of contact against a QB is not flagged. QB's are hit nearly every pass play legally. However, dropping your head and going helmet to helmet is not only very dangerous, but just plain stupid. Yep, it's a game, but these guys have jobs to do and can't do it very well with spine injuries, concussions, or other brain injuries. It's bad for the business of the NFL, which is entertaining fans with high-quality players.

Leading with the helmet is a rules violation from grade school youth football all the way through the NFL for a reason. If Harrison would've made a clean hit, this would be debatable.

Since: Nov 1, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:04 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

It was a vicious hit but if it had been someone without Harrisons rep would he have gotten the suspention? If the commish wants to get things in order he needs to have the refs and his office call penalties the same and set guidelines for infractions. THis season the officiating has been horrid (my own Lions won on a obvious no call face mask). Woodson can punch a guy and nothing, you can kick a guy in the crotch and no suspention. I have no problem with Harrison getting suspended just like I had no problem with Suh's suspention but make it the uniform so everyone knows what coming.

Since: Nov 30, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 11:03 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

this suspension is a bunch of bull. Harrison is being totally screwed on this one. The league wants to protect the quarterback and McCoy run directly at Harrison and decides at the last second to duck and the league thinks Harrison is at fault. The first thing that hits McCoy was Harrison hands. Remember McCoy was running at Harrison and when two people are running at each other they are going to hit each other. Nobody thinks of suspending the quarterback for not sliding, just the defensive players for running at him. WAKE UP NFL IT'S NOT ALWAYS THE DEFENSIVE PLAYER THAT SHOULD BE BLAMED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Since: Jun 30, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:58 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

Football players at every level are taught that helmet-to-helmet is a no-no. It would be very shameful is this suspension is appealed, and a tragedy if it is overturned. tigercoach5

The tragedy is that, if a defensive player so much as breathes on an opposing qb, there will be aflag and the threat of disciplinary action. The nfl and the jackass running the show are making a mockery of the game. These players get paid millions of dollars to PLAY A GAME! They can choose not to PLAY THE GAME and do something else if they feel the risk is too great. This isn't a blood sport. This is a hard hitting, high speed game. Or at least it used too be. Liberal thinking just keeps on killing our society and our favoriate past times. Bunch of damn sissies running things these days. 

Since: Sep 10, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:51 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game


Since: Nov 9, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:49 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

There was no obvious unsportsmanlike attempt to injure the guy with the ball. McCoy made the (poor) decision to run with the football right at Harrison. The NFL was right with Suh, but completely wrong (again) here. People watch game for the physicality of it.  The NFL is ruining the game.

Since: Aug 23, 2006
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:48 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

With Harrison's history of less than clean hits, a one-game suspension is a gift. If the NFL really wanted to clean up this type of helmet-to-helmet contact, a progressive model of punishment would work much better. 1st dirty game suspension. 2nd dirty hit...five games. 3rd dirty year ban.

Football players at every level are taught that helmet-to-helmet is a no-no. It would be very shameful is this suspension is appealed, and a tragedy if it is overturned.

Since: Jan 10, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:40 pm

NFL suspends James Harrison one game

LOL @ColtMcCoysDad

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