Steelers linebacker James Harrison has been widely criticized this week for sidelining two Browns players with concussions on Sunday. But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Harrison did nothing wrong — even though Tomlin also said he supports the NFL cracking down on helmet-to-helmet contact.
Tomlin said today that he stands by his post-game comments saying that Harrison’s hits on Browns receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs weren’t dirty, but he will support whatever the NFL thinks it needs to do to make the game safer.
“I’m all for player safety. I think it is the proper initiative that the NFL has,” Tomlin said. “I think we need to safeguard the men that play this game to the best of our abilities and make it as safe as we can. I’m a proponent of player safety and whatever rule or rule adjustments we need to make to make it safer.”
Harrison wasn’t flagged for either hit, and the shot on Cribbs isn’t expected to draw any league discipline because Cribbs was running with the ball at the time. The hit on Massaquoi is likely to get Harrison a letter from the league office.
Tomlin said he doesn’t think helmet-to-helmet contact can be eliminated, but he does think players can be coached to avoid unnecessary blows to the head. And he thinks the league can impose stricter discipline when needed.
“Helmet-to-helmet contact is going to occur from time to time in football,” Tomlin said. “Things happen fast, these are big, moving people. I think the issue is here that we coach a lowering of the target, to reduce the number of those opportunities and to talk about flagrant or egregious approaches.”