Rodney Harrison's comments resonate with the league office

After Sunday’s parade of helmet-to-helmet hits put the issue back on the league’s front burner, former Chargers and Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who now appears on NBC’s Football Night in America, sent a message that resonated strongly with the league office.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen explained during Monday Night Countdown that Harrison’s explanation regarding fines meaning nothing to him but suspensions meaning everything caught the league’s attention.  Per Mort, Commissioner Roger Goodell said “we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to listen to this, we’ve got to take these guys off the field.”


Added ESPN’s Tom Jackson of Goodell:  “I don’t that any Commissioner ever in the history of the national football league has cared more about the welfare of players than this man.  So he’s not gonna let it happen.  He’s not gonna let it happen.”

As we’ve explained, it starts with ejections, possibly via a suggested procedure that would allow the replay official (or a “safety official”) to monitor the game and eject players who use their helmets as weapons. 

The key will be to distinguish legal from illegal hits.  After Mort’s report, ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson spoke about an occasion when he was hit hard while playing, but the video of the contact that flattened Johnson was a clean shoulder hit to the arm area.  Notions of Newtonian physics results in Johnson’s helmet flying off and his body hitting the ground, but it was a clean hit.

The clean hits should stay; the dirty hits need to go.  The NFL now seems to be convinced of that. 

Thanks in large part to NBC’s Rodney Harrison, who I thought was going to hit me (again) during our video segment last night, which included more discussion regarding this important issue.


36 responses to “Rodney Harrison's comments resonate with the league office

  1. Have a replay official for that purpose. On field officials don’t see all angles, they have the booth review guys just make one watch for hits as well. Need something to do when not in the last 2 mins of the game.

  2. dumb dumb dumb… why do you think dez bryant pulled off a play in the game on Sunday? because he knew he was going to get creamed.
    you cant let these cocky little punk receivers like Desean and company run wild out there.
    Once and a they need to get there eggs scrambled.
    helemet to helmet fine, but this better not turn into a ejection contest like florio wants, reveiw the film and hand out suspensions, dont due it during a game. These refs cant even call pass interference correctly (see houston/KC).

  3. I’d like to kick Rodney Harrison’s ass…he is a know nothing,Viking hating asshole.
    Florio, I would be glad to watch your back during your next Rodney interview….for a substantial fee of course…no pro bono here dude…

  4. helmet to helmet isnt dirty, its how you were taught to tackle as a kid (full speed ahead and do what you have to to make the play)
    and a wr being “defenseless”????? at that level you shouldnt be defenseless, you either make the catch or bail out but dont say that someone should get fined or suspended for doing his job. defenders are paid MILLIONS, thats right MILLIONS of dollars to keep guys from catching a ball while people like me do manual labor for 50K a yr.
    i will gladly take desean jacksons place and get cold cocked for a few million and a concussion.
    dont feel sorry for grown men playing a childs game for way too much money so suits can make a killing from the press box. when you have a 6’4, 260lb behemoth of a man running a 4.4 at you, youre gonna get hurt, deal with it while you are recovering on your drive home in your bentley to your $3 million house
    they knew what they signed up for. a PHYSICAL game. hockey has already turned soft, and football is pretty much there too. soccer players dive, and baseball is boring now because of steroids. are there any interesting sports left?

  5. If Goodell is so concerned, how about getting rid of the older type of helmet ? Come on Florio, bring the Helmet up, you have a little bit of his ear. Helmet technology has come a long way, but some of these players are still using the older type. Yes, the newer helmet takes time to get used to. I HATED my Revolution helmet when I first got it, and almost went back to my old one. But after picking up a blitzing LBer where we hit heads, I was sold. And how about the shoulder pads in the neck area ? Something could be done there as well.
    And what about them blitzing LBers ? If the come in hard and hit an O-lineman in the head with their helmet, do they get fined? Suspended ?? No one sees or talks about that !

  6. As Meriweather and Patriot biographer Michael Holley independently observed today, Rodney wouldn’t be saying it if he still played the game.
    As a long time “Hot Rod” admirer I must say, the irony is breathtaking. To have the player consistently voted by players as the “dirtiest player” in the league to now be calling for suspensions leads me to only one possible conclusion: The media makes hypocrites out of everybody who enters that filthy, dishinest business.
    Lastly, I visit PFT infrequently these days because I’ve come to realize that a popular football site run by a lawyer may not be in football’s long term interests. It’s exceeded only by a lawyer running the league and making up the rules on the fly.

  7. Harrison is a hypocrite criticizing any of the players and hits today. He was one of the dirtiest players in the league when he played.

  8. Now I know why the Patriots lost the Superbowl. Harrison had been suspended. If Harrison had hit Tyree correctly there is no way he is going to catch that pass on the top of his helmet. Roger Goodell strikes again.
    It’s good to see all the sports outlets like ESPN and NBC that have contracts with the NFL lined up to support Goodell’s policy of don’t hit them so hard because the owners want them to play a longer season. And the owners make more money that way. And that is what this is all about!
    This is what we have to look forward to. A longer season of watered down football. I wonder who is going to watch?

  9. What will happen if a player dives forward, leading with his shoulder but inevitably having his head going first, and then someone else tries to tackle the offensive player, and he moves into the path of the defensive player’s helmet, and they collide? Would that be considered a helmet to helmet hit? How will the league gauge intent?

  10. Im definitely not in favor of giving the refs more rules to screw up. I say dirty hits should lead to suspensions not ejections. Instant reaction could differ depending on the feel or situation of the game.

  11. The league is now going to ruin the game of football. Just like the NHL did to hockey.

  12. Let’s be honest here, the NFL and God-dell doesn’t suddenly care about the well being of the players, they are a commodity. The NFL is a corporation and it’s concern is the bottom line… that being said, any good business looks to cover it’s ass from any future setbacks, such as lawsuits. Just as the Tobacco companies made a “giant’ one time settlement ( which effectively washed their hands of any future suit brought against them, since after the settlement YOU should know the dangers of tobacco ) the NFL is spinning this ala Mike Webster & Korey Stringer….so please, lets all be realists, and not have this empathy smoke allowed to be blown up our asses!!!

  13. m.odum says:
    “helmet to helmet isnt dirty, its how you were taught to tackle as a kid (full speed ahead and do what you have to to make the play)”
    I don’t know what alcoholic coach taught you the finer points of football as a kids. But kids are taught to tackle by getting their pads underneath, wrap up the ball carrier and try to drive the ball carrier backwards. Also know as form takling.

  14. If the know-it-alls at the NFL are so thorough, why didn’t they think of this suspension idea when they came up with the monetary penalty, did they not speak to players in regards to these matters?
    Its getting scary when the lawyers and financial managers of the NFL are the ones establishing how to play the game. Could football be in danger of being ruined by the very people who run and manage the league itself? I mean they already got lawyers reporting and commenting on the sport.

  15. @ravenmaniac ha ha just mad our lbs are better than yours now that ray is gettin long in the tooth?

  16. Patriots better come up with a replacement for Brandon Meriweather. Nebraska would be able to pass for 500 yards with James Sanders playing safety.
    And yeah, Rodney is a hypocrite.

  17. Why are these fines dollar amounts instead of a game check and prorated bonus? That would get their attention and their wives attention.

  18. The notion suggested here is so far beyond ridiculous, I have, for the first time in my life, questioned the future of this sport.

  19. Wow…he nailed it !
    “It’s good to see all the sports outlets like ESPN and NBC that have contracts with the NFL lined up to support Goodell’s policy of don’t hit them so hard because the owners want them to play a longer season. And the owners make more money that way. And that is what this is all about!”
    Too many injuries, would mean the players fighting the 18 games season, or wanting many more of the owners $$$$$. Always follow that $$$$ !

  20. What are you lazy cellar-dwellers going to say when someone dies on the field from a helmet to helmet hit?
    “Oh well…it’s a tough game.”
    “No big deal, he’s paid millions of dollars.”
    Take a breath and grow up. New rules would be put into place to protect the players that you morons bitch about on an hourly basis. The total nonsense that you people write on here is amazing! We all know that Florio has some kind of agenda with some stories, but others are useful…such as this one.
    As for Harrison…of course he’s being hypocritical. He’s taken a step back and is looking at the game from a totally different angle. Perhaps he’s looking in the mirror today, can see what damage he caused while playing and would like to do something to reverse it. Or he’s full of sh!t…

  21. Rather than going straight to suspension what about adding a (don’t hit me) soccer style yellow/red card system to suspent repeating offenders? It would really be a bummer to lose a playmaker on a Dunta Robinson style hit where it is very questionable whether or not the hit was really illegal or just a crushing hit.

  22. First Suspension:
    James Harrison. Remember in the Super Bowl where he roid raged on the Cardinal player he was 2 feet taller than? Oh and now he knocked out TWO players with blows to the head.
    The league better do something, otherwise the fans will with their wallets. Fans want football, not head bashing. We don’t want to see the superstars carried out on stretchers.

  23. please let harrison hit you that would be awesome. if he broke out his pimp hand on you i would lose it

  24. @pghguyy33
    wait til next year when harrison is the only thing you have because woodley is going to the highest bidder and harrison is how old?

  25. Recall that Rodney Harrison topped the 2004 and 2006 Sports Illustrated polls on “dirtiest player” as voted by his NFL peers. And, in 2008, an poll of NFL head coaches similarly fingered Rodney.
    Yet, it is precisely because of this “rep” that nobody in the NFL community brings more credibility to the table on this critical issue than Rodney Harrison.
    Harrison, a two-time Pro Bowler and member of the “30/30 Club,” has transitioned nicely from “one of the best players I have ever coached”—according to Coach Belichick—to a persuasive and engaging NFL analyst for NBC Sports’ Football Night in America.
    I agree emphatically with Rodney on this issue.

  26. Harrison got his knee popped against Tennessee in 07 and bitched about them being dirty, albeit he was the dirtiest player in the game. Now he sounds like Mother Teresa, what a frekin TOOL.

  27. yeah use replay then maybe the refs will see how stupid some of their calls are…..
    like the jets penalty for simply hitting a guy catching the ball on the sideline. just pathetic… dude was supposed to godamn hold up and miss the tackle because the refs are idiots?

  28. I love how some of you say if I was getting paid 3 mil/4 mil/5 mil I’ll gladly take that guys place……
    How about for a couple hundred thousand and no gauruntee of another contract?
    Thats the position Desean Jackson is in .

  29. Hate on Rodney all you want but he’s 100% correct. Players don’t give a damn about fines. These guys are making millions of dollars. What’s a $10,000 fine going to do? However, if the player is taken off the field for the rest of the game or for the following game then that hurts the team. Then you may get the coaches involved warning their players and telling their players about such hits if that’s the issue.
    Now an argument can be made about whether this is something that the league should get involved in or whether to just leave it alone but that’s a separate issue. But if the issue is we have to do something about it then the only way to truly help stop it is to incorporate suspensions. They already have fines for everything and they don’t do a thing.
    Rodney is long gone. It doesn’t matter now how he played and whether he was the dirtiest player in history doesn’t matter either. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s right. Suspensions are the only way that will help eliminate as many as possible of these intentional helmet to helmet hits or other intentional hits that injure players that the league wants out of the game.
    The modern day athlete makes way too much money where a fine is going to be something that a player thinks about before doing anything. But a suspension will. And it will on a coaching staff also.

  30. @ m.odum…
    I have a serious issue with your statement. Helmet to helmet hits are absolutely not how you are taught to hit. Its head up face mask to the chest lift and drive.
    Are these players over paid? Absolutely, but that is no excuse to allow these kinds of hits. The reprecussions of these kinds of hits are severe. When alot of these players are done playing, the head injuries the suffered can be an enormous factor in why some of these players will have alzheimers later in life. Not to mention other serious brain injuries.
    Some players do make helmet to helmet hits that are unintentional, but some are blatantly intentional. They are using their helmets as a weapon to cause injury. Helmets are there for the players protection and are not to be used otherwise. If this problem is not corrected more and more players will suffer brain damage and paralysis and I dont think even you want to see that.
    If players hit the way you were “taught” there would be alot more injuries similar to the one the Rutgers University player suffered on Saturday. He is now paralyzed from the neck down.
    This sport IS a game, but to these men it is their livelyhood. Like I said, they ARE overpaid, no doubt, but it is how they support themselves and their families. If you went to work everyday and suffered concussions I think you’d see it differently.

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