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Tomlin defends Harrison but supports suspensions for head shots

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.”

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45 Responses to “Tomlin defends Harrison but supports suspensions for head shots”
  1. stiller43 says: Oct 19, 2010 3:43 PM

    Massaquoi doesn’t lean down into the hit and it’s never a shot to his head/neck area.

  2. dbartdog says: Oct 19, 2010 3:46 PM

    And Mr. Tomlin…that matter of Harrison using HGH…is that something the league should look into??

  3. bradys boy says: Oct 19, 2010 3:50 PM

    have people forgotten that bills tight end whos name escapes me but he tried to block with his head and HE became paralalized…..so really this is stupid cuz not only will you most likley hurt others but yourslef….i agree with this new rule but its stupid to do it in the first place

  4. Steeler fans are tools says: Oct 19, 2010 3:50 PM

    That dumbass just shot himself in the foot by saying he’s doesn’t care if he hurts anyone. Him and Merriwether will be able to enjoy watching their team from the comfort of home for a week or 2.

  5. TP7 says: Oct 19, 2010 3:50 PM

    stiller43 says:
    October 19, 2010 3:43 PM
    Massaquoi doesn’t lean down into the hit and it’s never a shot to his head/neck area.
    ————————————————-
    ….and if your uncle had a va jay jay, he would be a she. we get it.
    Thanks for your enlightening breakdown.

  6. Bdrunk says: Oct 19, 2010 3:53 PM

    gforce89 says:
    October 19, 2010 3:45 PM
    Steelers suck. Tomlin is a loser and so are his players…Ben, James, Hines…all douchebags!
    —————
    You are a huge baby. Stop posting, and cut back on the estrogen.

  7. ErikInHell says: Oct 19, 2010 3:53 PM

    The way to prevent these hits is for the tackler to see his opponent. Harrison led with the crown of his helmet with both hits.

  8. WhodeyTN says: Oct 19, 2010 3:55 PM

    @ stiller43
    every post I read of yours just makes me think you are retarded.

  9. Tony Snow says: Oct 19, 2010 3:57 PM

    The Browns have developed a duck reflex…bottom line! :( . Poor coaching!

  10. unit612 says: Oct 19, 2010 3:58 PM

    I’m a Browns fan. and I remember alot of people were defending TJ. Wards hit. This is the same thing. the Mohomed hit looked to me to be against the rules. does this make Harrison a dirty player. just like it doesn’t make Ward a head hunter.
    @stiller43. that’s what was said about Shipley he ducked down into Wards hit. that’s human reaction, but its still against the rules.
    If the tables were reversed and one of are linebackers did that to one of the Steelers Browns fans would be saying the same thing Steelers fans are say. I highly doubt Harrison woke up that day and said I’m going to hit anyone helmet to helmet. but you have some big fast men running in a small area its going to happen.
    I think Cribbs hit was a good hit sorry he got hurt but a good hit. but Massaquoi hit was Illegal. but not Dirty

  11. i'm president charlie! says: Oct 19, 2010 4:00 PM

    Massaquoi shouldn’t duck his head down if he doesn’t want his head hit and Colt McCoy shouldn’t leave his players out to dry.

  12. dEV says: Oct 19, 2010 4:02 PM

    I think the problem is that these guys aren’t trying to make a tackle. They’ve been coached to lead with their helmets, launch themselves into the other guy, and hopefully create an incompletion or a fumble by dislodging the ball. If a defender goes flying through the air, with his arms at his sides, they should flag him.

  13. madmike77 says: Oct 19, 2010 4:05 PM

    Massaquoi doesn’t lean down into the hit and it’s never a shot to his head/neck area.
    ***
    True as that may be, Ray Anderson made it sound like the onus is on the defender to make sure there is no contact with a receiver’s head – even if the receiver moves his head or body into the defender.
    At the end of the day the league wants defensive players to hesitate before delivering a big hit. It leads to less injuries and ultimately it’s likely going to lead to more points being scored. I think the league considers both of those good things – especially if they’re going to move to an 18-game season.

  14. gameday says: Oct 19, 2010 4:06 PM

    I’m all for player safety and suspensions should be handed out for any head shot, cheap shot, or dirty plays.
    But just don’t flag or suspend my players cause they would NEVER do anything like that.
    Sincerely;
    Mike Tomlin

  15. live2ride1642 says: Oct 19, 2010 4:06 PM

    If Massaquoi has enough time to bend down into the fetal position because he recognizes the hit coming, then is he really a defenseless receiver then???
    To be truly “defenseless” it would require him not knowing that the hit was coming and had no time to react/protect himself. The crouch down would constitute ample time to protect.

  16. Phil Wright says: Oct 19, 2010 4:10 PM

    The hit on Massaquoi is likely to get Harrison a letter from the league office.
    If a letter is all, yet another example of the NFL favoring this franchise.

  17. gameday says: Oct 19, 2010 4:11 PM

    Start counting now folks and take notice.
    My prediction is that at the end of the season the Steelers and Titans will be at the very top of the list with hits that are eligible for suspension, but will have the fewest suspensions.
    The 2 dirtiest teams in the league with the most illegal hits will suffer less consequences than other teams.

  18. TellMeAboutIt says: Oct 19, 2010 4:13 PM

    Both were perfectly clean hits!

  19. ArtModellsPimp says: Oct 19, 2010 4:14 PM

    Ever since Tomlin promised to “unleash hell” last year…and then got his ass handed to him…nothing he has to say has any meaning. Harrison is just a cheap-shot player, period…the “Hines Ward” of the pburgh defense.
    And when what happened to Massaquoi, happens to someone wearing the black and urine, it will do my heart good, listening to all those apologist pburgh fans bitch and howl about how unjust it all is that no one gives a damn about it.
    And it WILL happen.

  20. andyprough says: Oct 19, 2010 4:16 PM

    Harrison could have really launched at Massaquoi. Looks to me on video like he might have held up a bit. I could be wrong though. I still have trouble seeing the whole hit, I haven’t gotten to see a good slo-mo replay. At full speed it is very fast, and hard to see what part of Harrison hit what part of Massaquoi. But, I might be wrong – he may have been head-hunting.
    The Cribbs hit – Cribbs was redirected towards Harrison at the last second by Woodley’s hit from the other side. Hard to see what you could expect Harrison to do differently there.
    I think the biggest problem is that Harrison is so big and fast and built like a rock, that it is just simply going to hurt when he hits. It’s a lot like Greg Lloyd – the league used to go after Lloyd, but the guy was usually just running through people. Harrison only weighs 242, but he often bull rushes 325-pound o-linemen back into the qb – he brings a lot of speed and power to the field. Guys need to be careful out there or they really will get hurt.

  21. FireVike says: Oct 19, 2010 4:17 PM

    Yeah, that’s it, he leaned into the hit! Looks to me like he was hit helmet to helmet and then w/ his forearm/shoulder. Clearly, under league rules that’s a penalty. like it or hate it, those are the rules. “THEY MISSED IT: In an interview with Peter King of SI.com, NFL Vice President of Operations Ray Anderson said the hit on receiver Mohamed Massaquoi by Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison should have drawn a penalty.
    “That call should have been made,” Anderson said to King.” Enough said. Again, like it or hate it those are the rules so players need to adjust their playing style.

  22. IckeyShuffled says: Oct 19, 2010 4:18 PM

    Mike Tomlin wants to have cake and eat it too. Won’t face any criticism from Florio.

  23. myeaglescantwin says: Oct 19, 2010 4:25 PM

    what about these running backs that lower thier heads to deliver blows?? no one is talking about that !!
    I just watched MJD spear almost everyone who tried to tackle him last night..
    The same kinda running that lead to Westbrook gettin his concusions. (though Bwest was diving forward to gain more yards, either way its a dangerous habit.) & then the defenders get slapped with fines on something they cant control.
    These rules have to run both ways

  24. previouslybannedfromPFT says: Oct 19, 2010 4:29 PM

    I certainly don’t condone banning commenters that call out your inept bloggers, Florio.

  25. noqrtrgvn says: Oct 19, 2010 4:32 PM

    dbartdog says:
    October 19, 2010 3:46 PM
    And Mr. Tomlin…that matter of Harrison using HGH…is that something the league should look into??
    HGH?……do you KNOW something that no-one else knows…..or are you just exercising your imagination?

  26. dugas0126 says: Oct 19, 2010 4:36 PM

    You want to stop this, take the bars off the helmets.

  27. WVUColumbus says: Oct 19, 2010 4:36 PM

    I love how all the commenters have names of IckeyShuffled and Viking, Modell’spimp, etc.
    Steelers and Patriots in AFC Champ……mark it down. Just like old times.
    Bungles, Ravens, Vikings, Cowboys?????
    Pre-season paper champs again. Lol

  28. if yer not first... says: Oct 19, 2010 4:38 PM

    Harrison is an animal, the coach condones cheating and their QB, well, I think everybody knows about him.
    But… it’s a classy organization.

  29. USSteelBldg says: Oct 19, 2010 4:46 PM

    All the ladies just hate the icky bad men of the Steelers :D

  30. imfrompa says: Oct 19, 2010 4:47 PM

    Can running backs still lead with their head? I saw M. Jones-Drew lead with his helmet and hit a Titan D-Lineman helmet-to-helmet. That man should be fined. He could hurt someone. And he is killing my fantasy team.

  31. Maddog says: Oct 19, 2010 4:50 PM

    I hate to reference Mike and Mike, God kill me, but Golic had a good point today. The receivers shifted their pad level just before contact. You duck you get hit, and I guess it costs the guy that hit you $75k

  32. Jack Lambert's Dentist says: Oct 19, 2010 4:51 PM

    Are you jealous Phil or did you pull your shorts up to tight again today?

  33. ravenfan820 says: Oct 19, 2010 4:51 PM

    thug!!….so is the coach

  34. Steel Dahn Sahth says: Oct 19, 2010 4:51 PM

    Better think twice about lowering your shoulders and trying to out-hit the steelers. You’ll get knocked out of the game.
    Flop down like a QB and live for another play.
    Anyone out there ever play running back in high school? remember how you were taught to lower your shoulders before contact? Stand up and try it… Did your head lower too? I bet it did. You see, they are connected by this thing called a neck.
    Now imagine you are running the baall, shoulders low, and an LB is approaching. Which part of your body is closest to the LB? Your head. Now how can he he possibly hit you without making contact with your head? Should he dive at your feet? That get him a job delivering mail by the end of the season.
    Get get the flags. The days of this being a contact sport are numbered.

  35. Bubby Brister says: Oct 19, 2010 5:10 PM

    “That dumbass just shot himself in the foot by saying he’s doesn’t care if he hurts anyone.”
    He said he said he doesn’t want to INJURE anybody and that hurting them is fine. And if you have a problem with a LB acknowledging that it’s his duty to hurt his opposition, you’re watching the wrong sport.
    “Sorry, I was gonna tackle you but I thought it might hurt too much.” Get the **** out of here.
    P.S. I find it amusing the number of people on this site who have usernames dedicated to hating the Steelers. It’s sort of mind boggling that people invest so much time hating other teams. Then again, I don’t have to worry about what other teams do since I’m too busy watching the Steelers win.

  36. Deb says: Oct 19, 2010 6:05 PM

    For some bizarre reason, all the Steeler-haters assume the suspensions for head shots is a James Harrison rule. They think James will be suspended, thus hurting Pittsburgh’s chances of making the playoffs.
    First, you smarmy little runts should have learned by now that your gleeful hopes for a suspension to ruin our season won’t necessarily turn out as expected. Second, this isn’t about James Harrison–it’s about head shots. James’s hit on Cribbs was perfectly legal. I didn’t like the hit on Massaquoi, but a slo-mo replay may find that was a legal hit as well. On the other hand, perhaps your star linebacker or safety will take a “kill” shot when you least expect it and wind out benched for a crucial game.
    I’m all for protecting the health and safety of players by enforcing the rules as they currently exist. But some of you should be careful what you wish for. You could be in for a rude awakening.

  37. TD40 says: Oct 19, 2010 6:50 PM

    stiller43 says:
    October 19, 2010 3:43 PM
    Massaquoi doesn’t lean down into the hit and it’s never a shot to his head/neck area.
    ————————————————-
    Hilarious. Browns fans said the exact same sentence in relation to TJ Ward’s hit on Shipley, and there were puh-lenty of Steelers fans (and Bengals fans, of course) who were like “No way! That was an illegal hit and TJ Ward should be roasted on a spit for it!”
    It’s never wrong when it’s *your* guy doing it, eh?

  38. Blackn'Gold says: Oct 19, 2010 7:30 PM

    2010, the year NFL football died.

  39. 8man says: Oct 19, 2010 9:47 PM

    My vocabulary simply lacks the words to eloquently and succinctly express how deeply visceral my hatred is for this team, its coach and its QB.
    Oh wait…..

  40. Deb says: Oct 19, 2010 10:33 PM

    @8man …
    No one cares.

  41. Spacemonkey says: Oct 19, 2010 10:41 PM

    Regardless of who your team is, or how much you hate the Steelers, this rule is going to wreck the sport of American Football.
    So offensive players are going to start lowering their heads every time hey have the ball, because then it will be illegal for any defenders to hit them directly; making a solid tackle a figment of imagination.
    There’s no way they are going to be able to enforce this rule without obliterating whatever balance the game currently has, period.
    If you’re dumb enough to run around with your head lowered in front of you like a blunt instrument, then you deserve to get cold cocked; that applies to defenders too.
    When I played ball it was perfectly acceptable to try to “jump” a defender who lowered their head to spear you, the result was usually a violent connection between your knee and his face.
    Usually the knee won.

  42. konghong says: Oct 20, 2010 6:37 AM

    First time on this site- read the article and thought it would be interesting to read the comments. I couldn’t have been more wrong. More than have of these comments are just fans of one team griping about a team they hate. Utterly and completely pointless, and not remotely related to the actual issues involved. If your player delivered the hit, its fine. It your player was hit, its dirty.
    How about a genuine discussion of the hit, the problems surrounding the issue, etc? Whether you like James Harrison, the Steelers, Ravens, Browns, etc., is irrelevant.
    Use your brain, and get a life. Take your hatred for individuals or teams (which are usually the result of those teams beating your team!!!) somewhere else, like http://www.iamamoron.com

  43. Grumpy Old Man says: Oct 20, 2010 6:52 AM

    Too many defenders don’t know how to ‘Tackle’ – They never learned how to hit the ball carrier in the gut with their shoulders and wrap their arms around the player.
    They prefer to play cheap ball and tackle the ball carrier by bouncing into them or launching themselves headfirst into the player like a missle.
    If defenders learned to tackle, this problem will go almost completely go away.

  44. thepittsburghkid says: Oct 20, 2010 10:33 AM

    This is the beginning of the end for the NFL. In 20 years the game will be 2 hand touch. When you have something perfect why do you have to keep messing with it until its ruined.
    Instead of head injuries its going to be knee and leg injuries.
    The NFL adding 2 games to the schedule is for player safety also.
    How is Harrison a repeat offender if one hit was clean?

  45. Deb says: Oct 20, 2010 12:52 PM

    @Grumpy Old Man …
    Steve Young was laying the problem at the feet of quarterbacks. He noted (and I agree) that only about a half dozen NFL QBs know how to read defenses and correctly place the ball. So they lead the receiver into a position where he’s going to get clobbered by defenders who aren’t necessarily launching with their helmets, but who are forced to make open-field tackles. The force of an open-field tackle is bound to lead to some form of helmet collision. He says that if the QBs knew what they were doing and knew how to read the complicated blitz and zone defenses, this wouldn’t happen so often. Interesting theory.

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