Tag:James Harrison
Posted on: July 18, 2011 8:38 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 9:46 pm
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New rule could make for longer games in 2011

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Every offseason, the NFL's competition committee convenes to discuss which rules to add, modify or scrap altogether. Mike Pereira, the former NFL Vice President of Officiating who now works for Fox Sports, writes Monday that in anticipation of the 2011 season, 121 NFL officials just completed a three-day clinic in Dallas where, among other things, they were apprised of the rules changes.

Some new rules were met with outspoken criticism (unsurprisingly, James Harrison took the lead on that), although the most controversial decision had to be the one that resulted in no change at all.

Last season, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson had a touchdown overturned against division rival Chicago after it was determined that he hadn't met all the criteria for what the NFL considered a legal catch. Crazy us, we just thought it involved, you know, catching the ball in the end zone.

If you can stand it, here's the play in question: 



No matter how many times we watch that replay, we always expect it to be ruled a touchdown since it looks ... just like a touchdown.

Pereira explains why, in fact, the pass thrown to Johnson is still considered incomplete.

"There were no substantial changes to the catch rule. There are three elements to a catch when going to the ground. First, you must get total control. Second, you must get both feet or another body part down. Third, and the trickiest, you must maintain control throughout the entire process of going to and hitting the ground. The ground can cause an incompletion in the field of play or end zone. The competition committee affirmed that the pass to Johnson was incomplete as the ball came out of his control when it hit the ground. He completed the first two elements of the catch but not the third."

This will placate almost certainly no one, but to quote every coach or athlete to ever talk to the media, "It is what it is." Moving on...

A rules change everyone can get behind: every scoring play will automatically be reviewed. The goal is to reduce missed calls and save coaches from wasting challenges, but Pereira notes that there will be unintended consequences, too. "There will be a lot more replay stoppages in 2011, and the length of games will increase. Neither of those is good for the game."

On this last point we can all agree. Presumably, even James Harrison.

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Posted on: July 18, 2011 5:28 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 5:49 pm
 

Vrabel doesn't think NFL should punish Harrison



Posted by Ryan Wilson

Steelers linebacker James Harrison probably isn't much of a poker player. The man is primarily known for two things: being one of the NFL's most tenacious linebackers, and for speaking his mind, even when it's not in his best interest. The most recent evidence for the latter came last week when Harrison unloaded on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall in an interview with Men's Journal.

That led to the inevitable media backlash promptly followed by some Harrison backtracking and PR damage control. To Harrison's credit, he wasted little time telling Roethlisberger that his words were misconstrued, and shortly thereafter issued a statement apologizing to Goodell, too.

So that happened. And now that we're all done parsing Harrison's every word, the conversation has turned to whether Goodell is within his rights to fine or suspend Harrison once the lockout ends. (We've had similar conversations about Kenny Britt, who can't seem to stay out of trouble.)

It's an issue that will likely be negotiated as part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

While we wait for that eventuality, however, soon-to-be free agent Darren Sharper said on Fox Sports Radio recently that Harrison shouldn't face league sanctions.

"At this point, with the lockout, I think James looked at it as his liberty and knew that he had the perfect time to say what he wanted to say and not have to face any repercussions because they can’t do anything because there is no CBA agreement," Sharper said, according to Sports Radio Interviews. "He can’t get fined and it might be something at the end of the road where they can go back and fine him at a later date, but right now he’s in the clear to say whatever he wants to."

Harrison's Busy Week

Recently retired Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel echoed Sharper's sentiments. During a Friday radio appearance on Boston's WEEI, he said that the NFLPA "would have an issue if (Harrison) were suspended or fined."

Vrabel elaborated: "I know that James Harrison is a heck of a player and one the Pittsburgh Steelers and their fans and their coaches probably really enjoy and are glad that he's on their team," he said. "As long as his teammates are fine with it, we support him as an association."

Vrabel also thinks that Goodell is a big boy and can handle the criticism.

"Roger's got big shoulders, Roger understands," he said. "I would say to Roger or anybody else that had a problem with it, I would say what Bill (Belichick) said to us: 'To (those who) much is given, much is expected. And Roger is given a lot in form of compensation and being in the situation that he's in, so there's a lot expected of him. And if that means taking the higher road and calling James and trying to figure out how to get this thing settled between them or whatever issue they have going on."

Whether that happens remains to be seen. First things first: the owners and players have to agree on an new CBA.

PFT's Mike Florio writes that "one source with general knowledge of the dynamics recently suggested that Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA* executive director DeMaurice Smith already have come to an understanding on the point."

Florio adds: "But we’ll have trouble understanding any understanding that allows the NFL to punish players for arrests occurring during the lockout. Indeed, a decision by the NFLPA* to expose players retroactively to responsibility for violations of the personal conduct policy could open the door for a fairly potent lawsuit alleging breach of the duty of fair representation, which could open a fairly significant can of worms given that the labor deal will have been negotiated at a time when, technically, the NFLPA* has the power to represent no one."

Finally, Florio points out that the players who have run afoul of the law aren't getting away with anything by escaping NFL-related sanctions. They still have to answer to the legal system, the media and the fans. Obviously, this doesn't apply to Harrison, who broke no laws when he called Goodell a "clown" and the "devil," and it could be another reason the league chooses not to discipline him.

Then again, arbitrarily meting out punishments has been a criticism (hallmark?) of Goodell's enforcement strategy. It's impossible to predict what he might do. 

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Posted on: July 14, 2011 9:33 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 9:58 pm
 

Harrison's agent: 'A lot of it is bravado'

Posted by Ryan Wilson

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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Posted on: July 14, 2011 3:21 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 4:08 pm
 

Timmons gives insight into Harrison's words

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With the James Harrison comments in Men’s Journal continuing to reverberate around the Internet, so far today we’ve heard from the man who interviewed him and former teammate Jerome Bettis.

The former defended him and basically said Harrison could trample all over him if it made others feel better about Harrison’s comments, and the latter simply said he was disappointed.

So, why not ask a current teammate about Harrison and what he’s like? That’s what TSN Radio in Toronto did today when the station talked to Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons. Here’s part of the transcript, via sportsradiointerviews.com.

On what Harrison is like as a person and a teammate:

“James Harrison is a big part of my growth. I had a tough rookie year, and during the summer I worked out with him the whole time. And he basically just taught me how to work and how to be an athlete in this business. He was just substantial to my career and I look up to the guy and admire him. I have just nothing but the best things to say about him.”

If he thinks that Harrison might have been baited into his comments or if something perhaps prompted him to say what he did:

“Yeah, I’m sure it was something. But James is a guy that’s misunderstood. A lot of people think he’s a bad person, but he just sometimes says some things that he shouldn’t. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t feel this way, he probably just got kind of mixed up with his words. But he’s a great guy.”

If Harrison is actually the tough, scary guy that his image projects:

“No he’s not. He’s a great father, he does a lot in our community, he’s a Pittsburgh Steeler, we accept him, and I have nothing but the best things to say about him.”


Hell, maybe Timmons is right: maybe Harrison IS misunderstood and that he DOES mix up his words. If that’s the case, maybe he should just stop talking about other people. You know, because he’s misunderstood. And he mixes up his words.

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Posted on: July 14, 2011 1:57 pm
Edited on: July 14, 2011 2:12 pm
 

Hot Routes 7.14.11: Just who is Greg Cosell?



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Andy Benoit, writing for the NY Times, profiles Greg Cosell of NFL Films. You might know Cosell as one of the most knowledgeable (non-coach, non-player) observers in the NFL.
  • Falcons fifth-round draft pick Jacquizz Rodgers is taking classes at Oregon State to finish up his degree, just like he, his mom and his uncle had agreed he would. After all, it’s not like he can study his playbook at this point.
  • According to Forbes, via PFT, the Cowboys are the second-most valuable sports franchise in the world, worth $1.86 billion. The Redskins ($1.55 billion) and the Patriots ($1.37 billion) come in at fourth and sixth, respectively.

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Posted on: July 14, 2011 11:14 am
Edited on: July 14, 2011 9:55 pm
 

What else did Harrison tell magazine reporter?

HarrisonPosted by Josh Katzowitz

In an interesting admission today, the writer of the controversial James Harrison piece for Men’s Journal magazine told Harrison to do whatever he needs to do in order to make peace with his quarterback.

“We talked about 11 o’clock yesterday morning,” Paul Solotaroff told ESPN radio, via Pro Football Talk. “Look, James is the guy who’s got to live with Ben for the next three years.... So as I told James, ‘Listen, whatever you’ve got to say to mend fences is perfectly fine with me.’”

That’s why Harrison told Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger that Solotaroff twisted his words in the story.

But it also sounds like Solotaroff didn’t use all the quotes he could have, and apparently, Harrison got really nasty in the interview (it, of course, would be a surprise if Harrison wasn't nasty)

Harrison's Big Day
“I filled up three notebooks, I don’t know how many hours of digital tape, and I cut so much stuff from this piece,” Solotaroff said. “There is just acres of stuff James said that’s compelling and amusing and riveting. And that wasn’t the only thing he said about Ben.”

In addition to bashing Roethlisberger and RB Rashard Mendenhall in the piece that ran -- he also said some not-so-nice things about commissioner Roger Goodell -- Solotaroff left on the cutting room floor the quote in which Harrison called Cleveland’s Colt McCoy “an idiot kid quarterback.”

But you know what’s also kind of weird about this interview? Solotaroff seems like a HUGE fan of Harrison.

“I was furious at the way James got done by Goodell last year,” Solotaroff said. “I thought making him the poster boy for this abrupt and arbitrary rule change . . . was about the most wrongheaded thing you could do, particularly since Goodell seemed bent on singling James out.”

That’s fine for Solotaroff to feel that way. But now it sounds like Solotaroff is protecting Harrison from getting into even more trouble, simply because he likes Harrison so much.

And when you basically admit to that in a radio interview, your credibility as an objective reporter will get called into question. As it should be.

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Posted on: July 13, 2011 5:48 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 6:00 pm
 

Cushing will pray for James Harrison

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

If you thought James Harrison -- after quite an adventurous day -- was in need of some divine intervention, you’re not the only one.

Harrison's Big Day
Texans LB Brian Cushing, who Harrison said in the latest edition of Men’s Journal was "juiced out of his mind,” was asked on Wednesday to comment on Harrison’s quotes. To be fair, Cushing was suspended four games last year for violating the league's drug policy, and he has been known to fight with teammates on the field during games.

Said Cushing to My Fox Houston: "I'll pray for him."*

On Twitter earlier today, I likened Harrison to a venomous pro wrestling heel because no matter what you think of his comments, he’s one hell of an impressive villain. If his intent was to make people hate him while making money for his company, he’d be up there with Ric Flair.

This, of course, makes him not boring, and as we wait for any news to break up the lockout monotony, that’s not a terrible attribute.

*Perhaps Cushing would be better suited to use his prayers for ending the lockout as soon as possible. Harrison, at this point, is probably too far gone.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: July 13, 2011 3:22 pm
Edited on: July 13, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Harrison already backtracking on fiery comments?

Posted by Will Brinson

Steelers linebacker James Harrison blew up a normally calm Wednesday when his interview in Men's Journal revealed some incredibly explosive quotes about Roger Goodell, NFL policies and his teammates.

After the mess had flown through, in and around the proverbial fan, Harrison did what any smart public figure does: claim his Facebook account got hacked backtrack quickly on his comments.

Per Merrill Hoge of ESPN (by way of Adam Schefter), Harrison gave his teammate Ben Roethlisberger a buzz Wednesday morning to talk about the interview and claimed, according to Roethlisberger, "the writer twisted many of his comments" and that he didn't mean to dogpile on Ben the way he did. (He ripped his two interceptions in the Super Bowl and likened the Steelers' quarterback to Peyton Manning … in paygrade only.)

According to Schefter, Roethlisberger is "taking Harrison at his word" and that their relationship is "fine."

Rashard Mendenhall, who Harrison called a "fumble machine," is also apparently cool with the comments, saying on Twitter that he doesn't "have a problem with what [Harrison] said because I know him."

Harrison's Big Day

So, the good news is that Harrison appears to be relatively in the clear when it comes to his teammates.

The bad news is that he's not exactly safe yet when it comes to the Steelers, who didn't sound thrilled about what Harrison had to say (kind of like when you call your dad and tell him your first-semester-at-college grades before you get home for Christmas).

And the even worse news is it's going to be really, really tough for Harrison to figure out how to explain away his most aggressive comments -- refusing to pee on Roger Goodell if he's on fire, devil, clown, etc., -- which were directed squarely at the man who's going to be running the NFL in 2011.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com