|Not every Pittsburgh player offered 'no comment.' Some remain confused by the league's punishment policies. (Getty Images)|
By Ryan Wilson
The league suspended Steelers linebacker James Harrison one game on Tuesday. Harrison promptly appealed and the expedited hearing was held Wednesday. A ruling could come as soon as Thursday afternoon.
In the meantime, the Steelers are preparing for Monday night's matchup with the 49ers as if they will be without Harrison. During head coach Mike Tomlin's Tuesday press conference, he said "We have to prepare as if he is not going to play, of course. We will move forward, James will move forward. …
"We're disappointed," Tomlin continued. "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."
And according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette, Tomlin has also instructed his players not to talk about Harrison's suspension publicly. Dutifully, safety Troy Polamalu offered up a "no comment."
But Bouchette points out that many Steelers players disagreed with Harrison's punishment because of the arbitrary nature with with the league hands down sanctions. For example:
Other [players] thought it unfair that Harrison was suspended for trying to make a tackle while Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour was only fined $30,000 for punching Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito earlier this month, even though it was the second time he had punched another player in two seasons. Seymour punched Ben Roethlisberger last year and was fined $25,000. He was ejected on both occasions.Cornerback Ike Taylor said slightly more than "no comment" on the matter.
So repeating a mistake trying to make a tackle cost a suspension while a repeat in throwing a premeditated punch after a play -- which would get a player arrested if he had done it on the street -- drew a fine of only $5,000 more than the first time?
|James Harrison suspended|
"We have to continue to try to play within the rules, try to do the right things because it's a battle we really can't win," said safety Ryan Clark, who has already been fined twice this season and could be in line for a suspension if it happens again. "The NFL is going make the decision on who plays and who doesn't and, for us, we have to try to find a way to play within the rules and still be able to maintain a physical presence out there."
Whatever the NFL's enforcement strategy, Polamalu thinks that it's too late for many players to change.
"I don't think any football player is going to go out there and change the way they're playing. I think it's too late in our lives to really do that. Of course, we're professional athletes and we try our best to adjust, but it's tough."
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