James Harrison fires away on 18-game season, fines, penalties

Steelers linebacker James Harrison became the poster boy for the league’s crackdown on helmet-to-helmet hits during the 2010 season, and now he’s using the platform of his presence at the Super Bowl to hit back at the league office.

Asked if he expects the owners to lock out the players next month, Harrison answered, “Yes.”

But on other subjects, especially the proposed expansion of the regular season to 18 games, he gave a lot more than one-word answers.

“I don’t think it is a good thing if you’re worried about player safety,” Harrison said of the 18-game season. “It’s nothing about player safety. It’s about them making money.”

Harrison praised Steelers owner Dan Rooney for bucking the trend of NFL owners and siding with the players who want to keep the regular season at 16 games.

“The biggest thing that hurt them was when Mr. Rooney came out and said he would rather it stay at 16 games and that he doesn’t need the money,” Harrison said. “He’s the main voice and most respected voice among the owners. He came out and said exactly what it is. It’s about them making money. It’s not about us. With them talking about player safety and all this fine stuff, that’s just a show to make them look better. It’s something to give the people to look at and have them think that they are trying to do something positive.”

Asked whether he knows of any player in the league who supports an 18-game season, Harrison said, “No. Nobody wants to go 18 games. It’s not conducive to being healthy. It’s not conducive to player safety they say they’re so worried about.”

Harrison also pointed out that he’s been fined for hits that weren’t even penalized on the field, and that there’s seeming inconsistency about which hits draw flags, which hits draw fines, which hits draw both and which hits draw neither.

“If you’re going to call that on me, call it across the board,” Harrison said. “Each week, there are 30-40 guys who are doing the same thing and it’s not called as a penalty or fine. Just call it straight across the board.”

67 responses to “James Harrison fires away on 18-game season, fines, penalties

  1. Harrison is right on the mark, it should be about player safety and not money. Lets all do him a favor and reduce his games to zero, thereby increasing his player safety by 16 games + whatever snap count he has in preseason and training camp. I’m sure he won’t mind the hit to the paycheck.

  2. If I were Goodell I would suspend Harrison for the game, then retire and let someone else worry about the CBA, but thats just me…

  3. Wonder how much Goodell likes it when a player comes out and says negative things about him to the press?

  4. Great! Playoffs and the Superbowl with teams full of backups as their new starters. 18 games means more injuries and two additional meaningless games for playoff teams. The teams in the playoffs are not going to be the same team that started the season.

  5. Is there any polling on what the fans want? Everyone I know thinks 18 is too much. It appears as if the owners are really the only people wanting 18 games. And for the record, Rooney is one out of 32, he is a mere fraction of the equation.

  6. The NFL needs to come out and clarify the parameters of the 18-game season.

    Are the 2 new games taking the place of the last 2 preseason games or are they adding 2 more games?

  7. So if they go to 18 games will James cry and go home to contemplate retirement again? That lasts until someone tells him he makes more in 1 game than he would flipping burgers the rest of his life.

  8. @steelersmichele:
    hopefully as much as he likes his negative comments about his employees being made public (big ben, belichick). so in short, let’s hope he’s not a total hypocrite and make some attempt to get retribution

  9. What are you gonna do if they change it to an 18 game season, James? Cry, and threaten to retire again?

  10. Im surprised James doesnt want more games to quench his thirst of injuring people….he’s a dirty player, check the tape. There is a difference between hitting people hard & spearing people. His fines are all legit

  11. This is a textbook argumment maneuver. He takes on an issue and draws fake connections to other issues to make his point sound smart….politicians do it all the time…”answer the question you wish you had been asked”.

    The reason I say this is because the 18 game season had nothing to do with player safety. It has always been about giving more value to season ticket holders who hate paying full price for preseason games. It’s actually a response to the recession and a horrible year for blackout games. The only connection to the 18 game season and player safety is this: the idea of more games prompted the league to investigate safer ways to play the game so that players could last the extra 2 games.

    Harrison has a target on his back because he won’t shut up. He was flagged and fined, but then he came out and said to the world that he wouldn’t change his style of playing…..What do you expect the league to do?

  12. Whats with all these James Harrison articles? He doesn’t like Goodell, an 18 game season, being singled out or being fined for hits that he doesn’t agree with.

    Please PFT, enough with these redundant articles.

  13. Everyone on this site that says Harrison needs to shut up and quit whining need to take their own advice. Read the article you idiots. His comments were direct responses to questions he was asked by the media during “media day”. Every time he comments on these things it’s because someone asks him about it trying to get him to respond in a controversial way so they can write their column(or blog post)

  14. @footballfan and all the other Harrison haters/Godhell lovers 18 game season is not good for the players.why would you even think that?they are the ones that have to go out there and play.and keep bashing Harrison,if you think it bothers him go ask him.or even for that matter walk up to him on autograph signings and run your mouth to him face to face,,see how far you would get..

    oh wait Harrison is a better person than that he would never put himself on your level..if you dont have anything constructive to say about the page why bother sayin anything..if this was your hero making the statement that harrison made u would be all up in it and backing them up..so shut it and just learn better manners

  15. Personally, I think it’s kind of weird when people say they *don’t* like the idea of an 18 game season. Why the hell not? For those of us who LOVE football, isn’t getting *more* of it a *good* thing?

    Wah, a handful of players are whining they might have to do a couple hours extra work for the bazillions of dollars they get. I feel so sorry for them.

    Look- in the 70s, we went from 14 games a season to 16. Is anyone still crying about *that*? Maybe we should go back to 14 games because it was “safer.”

    (eyes rolling…)

  16. Og all of the major league sports, the NFL plays the least amount of games. I’m all for more games being played. It may make teams play more deep into their lineup and give theirs first string players breaks and rotate them more rather than seeing the same group of people on the field for every play of the game.

  17. “I don’t think it is a good thing if you’re worried about player safety,” Harrison said of the 18-game season. “It’s nothing about player safety. It’s about them making money.”

    My comment really isn’t about James Harrison, per se, but this quote brought something into focus for me.

    How ironic that there is all that pissing and moaning from the players over enhanced enforcement of existing rules in the interests of player safety when player safety is the basis of their objection to the 18 game schedule.

    And, of course, that door swings both ways on the matter. The league has altered the rules time and again to make the game safer….so they can ask the players to put themselves in harm’s way more often.

    Neither side gets any consistency points.

  18. i dont understand why people think players are whining…you are acting like they are seeking out reporters and are trying to get attention. if james didnt have to talk to the media he wouldnt, during the regular season most pgh reporters let him be but now with all this attention he is being asked these questions and he is answering them honestly. would you rather him lie and tote the company line or say no comment? then there would be a hate article about harrison saying no comment like there was about randy moss several months ago…

  19. I agree 100% with Harrison. But also because 16 games is enough, plain and simple. Why drag the season on and have the games be boring and meaningless like all the other sports. At 16 games, every game is important. And exciting. Plus who wants all 2nd-stringers at playoff time because everyone’s injured?

  20. No 18 game schedule but he doesn’t get it when it comes to the helmet to helmet hits. He seems like a lughead. He can’t even smile cause he has to show that he is such a tough guy. Crazy stuff. He seems to like hurting people and if he does maybe he should do some time in jail. That is just wrong.

  21. everyone knows this site has agendas they like to push whether it be getting hits or actually getting on a player…this site was devoted to getting childress fired for awhile, then destroying favre followed up by making randy moss look like a pile of garbage and making the steelers look like crybabies…they may all of been true but i wonder how pft would like it if there was a site dedicated to attacking these writers personally and doing whatever necessary to get them fired….either way i dont care i like this site and visit frequently

  22. @jpmelon:
    not cool posting comments on this site under a pseudonym mr. goodell!

    stated or not, there IS a connection between player safety and an extended season. simply put, more games = more risk of injury. this ratio does not depend on more/better/enhanced rules. it’s kind of like when your car insurance company asks how far you drive to work and how often you drive. it’s because they realize that the more you drive and the farther you drive, you become more of a risk (regardless of traffic laws). the same is true here. playing more games exposes players to more risk. aaron rodgers, david garrard, and brett favre suffered concussions on clean tackles in which their heads hit the ground. no amount of rules would have changed that. adding two games exposes them to additional risk.

    “It has always been about giving more value to season ticket holders who hate paying full price for preseason games”

    -so cut the prices. why expose the players to unnecessary risk in order to “add value”? consumers will be asked to WATCH two additional games and the players will be asked to PLAY the games.

    not only does this NOT make sense from a safety standpoint, it also makes no financial sense for the players. in addition to the extra games, the owners want roughly 20% of the shared revenue pie back from the players. it currently stands at a 60-40 split in favor of the owners. so they’re basically asking them to submit their bodies to an additional two games of injury risk AND give back up to 20% of the shared revenue pie. doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out this is dumb. this is a money move by the owners plain and simple (all while they gripe about needing the money, yet the continue to rebuff transparency with their books).

  23. First of all, all of you whiners can shut up about Harrisons comments. It’s SB week he was asked questions by the media and then gave his opinion. I can imagine how much you would crusify him had he just answered no comment to all media questions and walked away! I agree with him on the fact that 40 guys make the same hits every week and don’t get fined. In fact I have seen hits from opponents on game days do the same to Ben and get no flag or fine. Next, stop YOUR jealous whining; just because your favorite team and players have been making tee times for weeks doesn’t mean you should pick on the real players playing for the ring. So much of your whining is just sour grapes because your favorite team can’t get this far, I feel for you, constantly having to put others down so you can feel better about your teams ineptitude or maybe it’s just your own ineptitude that makes you feel like such a loser!
    Go Steelers

  24. steelernation1 –

    For the record, this is a place for people to post comments. Some are positive, some are negative. If you have an issue with that, you’re probably on the wrong site, so maybe you should go cry somewhere else about people trashing Harrison.

    By the way, Harrisons’ opinions would be held in a higher regard if he wasn’t such a crybaby. Seriously, this guy complains about everything whenever he gets the chance, and it’s getting old. We get it, you hate the rules. Guess what? They aren’t changing anytime soon, so shut up and play football.

  25. The sad thing is, he might be making really valid points but the Steelers have been such a whiny bunch this season that I really could care less about anything that comes crawling outta their mouths. Shut up and go home….

  26. i wonder how pft would like it if there was a site dedicated to attacking these writers personally and doing whatever necessary to get them fired
    Many of theposters on this site seem to be doing just that.

    Right or wrong, you gotta admire Harrison for at least speaking his mind all the while knowing that target on his back is getting bigger & bigger.

    Come on Sunday

  27. jpmelon says: It has always been about giving more value to season ticket holders who hate paying full price for preseason games. It’s actually a response to the recession and a horrible year for blackout games.

    Preseason games are important: They give the new guys (draft picks and free agents) a chance to figure out the new system and to help the coaches determine who should start. I highly doubt with only 2 preseason game, Pouncey would have been our starter this season.

    As for the recession and blackout games, that just means that certain teams will have another game with empty seats in the stadium and no game on television–while the other teams that have thrived will bring more money to the league.

  28. Harrison, Rooney doesn’t care about going to an 18 game season because he already is laughing to the bank. Besides Ben Roethlisberger, name me a Steeler who is making Top 5 money at his position. You can’t. The Steelers pay well, but they never go overboard for anyone. Even Ben’s contract is a fluke because they knew he’d be eclipsed by Brady’s and Manning’s in a short time.
    And really an 18-game schedule isn’t that much more. Players normally play in 3 out of 4 preseason games, so if you add that time up, it’s really almost 2 games. Now they just mean something. Besides with an 18-game schedule, will come a rookie wage scale, which will mean more money in veterans hands.
    Also, don’t complain about you’re fines and then say they aren’t concerned with player safety. Why would they be fining people like yourself who constantly lead with their helmet, unless they were concerned about player safety? They removed the wedge on kickoffs, they stopped players from going at QB’s knees, and certain blocks are also illegal. So they are concerned about player safety, and that reason is to make more players available for 18 games.

  29. footballfan says:
    Feb 3, 2011 10:45 AM
    Hate to say it but I agree with the 18 game season.

    That’s why you’re a football fan, not a player.

  30. “It has always been about giving more value to season ticket holders who hate paying full price for preseason games.”
    Umm wrong.

    How exactly are you defining “more value?”

    When the teams jack up my season ticket prices an extra 20% if they increase to 18 games, I’m not getting “more value”

    If all the stars on my team are hurt before the playoffs even start because they had to play 2 additional regular season games, I’m not getting “more value”

    If my team is 2-14 by week 16, I sure as hell am not getting “more value” by having to suffer through 2 more games, games that will be played in the freezing cold of January

    If my team is 14-2 by week 16 and has already wrapped up a 1st round bye, I’m not getting “more value” when the coach rests all the starters for the remaining 2 games.

    By eliminating 2 preseason games, I’m not getting “more value” when this year’s rookies havent had enough snaps to learn their position, so they’re forced to sit on the bench/practice squad for the entire season

    By eliminating 2 preseason games, I’m not getting “more value” when you have 2 less opportunities to evaluate the backups because the starters have to play 6 out of the 8 quarters to get them ready for the season.


    where exactly is this “more value” that you speak of? oh yeah. The only people getting more value are the greedy, greedy owners who can charge more for season tix, can charge more to CBS/Fox for broadcasting 2 extra games, can get more $$ from concessions because more fans will attend 2 reg games than 2 preseason games.

    want to give me more value? Cut the price of preseason games, or even better, dont make me buy them AT ALL, and sell them at a discounted rate to the thousands of people who can’t afford season tix or are stuck on a decades long waiting list (see Pittsburgh, Wash, GB, etc)

  31. if this guy would learn how to tackle instead of going for cheap shots all the time then maybe he wouldnt be crying about fines and safety. and what the hell is the difference if they take away two preseason games and make them regular season your still gonna get paid and still gonna play.

  32. Harrison has been getting singled out by the league all season. Now he has a platform to fire back and he is taking advantage. Would like to hear what Goodell thinks about these interviews. Am sure Peter King will let us know.

  33. @ joe6606

    How do you justify claiming that ticket prices will rise because there are more games? You are paying for 20 games in either case. Actual games will bring more interest (more ticket sales and higher tv ratings) and more money at the same prices. Your ticket prices might go up regardless of the 16 to 18 game issue…..but there is no connection between more games/less preseason and higher prices.

    Anyone who actually enjoys preseason games probably doesn’t have season tickets. If they do have season tickets, then they must not have a hard time paying for them. I sacrifice some luxuries in life to afford my season tickets. Its outrageous that I have to pay full price for a ticket when the scalper value is about $8 per ticket.

    Teams could easily determine their rookies and backups value if they simply had a few scrimmage games. There is no reason to make me pay full price for a game that means nothing.

    In response to the poster who feels that teams without blackout problems shouldn’t compromise to help teams with blackout problems….I’ll say this……Hope you enjoy watching football in a 16 team league.

  34. Gosh, there’s a lot of stupid in here.

    What difference does it make if you’re first on the thread if you have nothing to say? 🙄

    @ArtModellsPimp …

    James is a tough, black player with a menacing stare who sometimes loses says makes unwise comments in the media. He’s also a smart, funny guy with a great deadpan sense of humor. Why would you assume a tough black player wouldn’t understand the word conducive? Do people even stop to think how racist they sound?

    @footballfan …

    I’m so happy you’re excited about an 18-game season. Physiologists have compared the impact of each game to that of a low-speed car crash. Let’s substitute you for a crash-test dummy in 18 consecutive weekly simulations, then see what you think. I know it will be an intellectual step down from the dummy, but we’ll make the sacrifice.

    @trickbunny …

    The game is played with more speed and impact now than in the 70s … well, at least that’s how the other 31 teams play it. Not sure about the Browns 😉

  35. Seriously?… An NFL player (Harrison) complaining that it’s only about “them” making money? “Them” is making the money to pay his, as well as other player’s inflated salaries. He’s not worried about player safety either…especially as the poster boy for helmet-to-helmet hits. What a putz. Look that up in the dictionary and it’ll say “see Steelers”…

  36. “If you’re going to call that on me, call it across the board,” Harrison said. “Each week, there are 30-40 guys who are doing the same thing and it’s not called as a penalty or fine. Just call it straight across the board.”

    Truer words were never spoken. I thought they were targeting Harrison because other players were doing the exact same things and they were never flagged or fined.

    He’s 100% correct with that last statement.

  37. “How do you justify claiming that ticket prices will rise because there are more games? You are paying for 20 games in either case. Actual games will bring more interest (more ticket sales and higher tv ratings) and more money at the same prices. Your ticket prices might go up regardless of the 16 to 18 game issue…..but there is no connection between more games/less preseason and higher prices.”

    Friend, you are either the most naive person in the world or an idiot.

    If they replace 2 preseason games with 2 real games, your season tix prices WILL go up.

    Currently, the audacity of having to pay for 2 preseason games is baked into the total price of your package.

    Dont just look at the face value printed on the ticket

  38. @jpmelon

    The argument is called a straw man, and this is a bad example of it.

    Harrison never asserted that the 18 game season had anything to do with safety–you put those words into his mouth.

    His argument is, IF the league cares about players’ safety, THEN they wouldn’t want to add more games. It’s the most logically sound argument ever presented by anyone affiliated with sports.

    You know, boxing matches used to be 15 rounds. Then Mancini killed Duk Koo Kim in the 14th round of a fight. If the WBC was anything like the NFL, they would have added two more rounds. Instead, they changed championship matches to 12 rounds. Now whether they reduced the number of rounds for the boxers’ safety or because of money is irrelevant– the bottom line is that the safety of the sport was enhanced.

    Adding two more games not only increases the risk of discrete injury, but it increases repetitive injury. Jerome Bettis and Earl Campbell have trouble walking nowadays. They have trouble walking not because of discrete injury–ligament and tendon tears, broken bones etc…–but because of repetitive injury. They’ve each had 10,000 thigh bruises. They’ve sustained major joint compressions over and over, as well as and micro-fractures. None if this includes the slight jarring of the brain that takes place with every collision, violent or not. Two more games means 40-60 more carries for a feature back.

    For the NFL to argue that players safety is a major concern, while pushing for 2 extra games is just 100% bullchit.

    He also inadvertently makes another point. Fining players does nothing to prevent injury. It’s a punitive measure aimed at satisfying the football pundits, who cried big sanctimonious tears about head injuries after week 6. If the NFL believed that the fines were an effective safety measure–provided that the league actually cares about safety–it would have bought into them wholesale. There would have been over 20 fines a week. The logical assumption being that violent hits are not such a problem for the NFL because if they were a big problem, more than 1 player per week would be fined.

    That’s like instituting Martial law because one kid was caught smoking weed.

  39. Deb says:

    “@ArtModellsPimp …

    Why would you assume a tough black player wouldn’t understand the word conducive? Do people even stop to think how racist they sound?”

    Mind your own assumptions, Deb. Sometimes, you are not quite as smart as you think you are.

    You assume that I am white. I am not. And James Harrison does not need you to defend him. He’s an idiot who fails to understand the meaning of words, when it comes to written rules… yet, he throws around “conducive?”

    Please go back to defending your favorite pervert, instead. Your rant was ridiculous.

  40. @artmodellspimp,

    “Conducive” isn’t exactly known as a fifty-cent word.

    And the only confusion that existed with James Harrison was not with the rules themselves, but with the application of the rules.

    Why, oh why, was Patrick Chung not flagged and fined for his helmet to helmet hit on Hines Ward? Meanwhile, James Harrison was flagged and fined for a formed tackled on Ryan Fitzpatrick, and he was flagged for “falling on the quaterback with the full weight of his body” while Jason Campbell was just releasing the ball.

    That creates confusion. Your quip about his use of a relatively prevalent word does raise questions about your motives. In fact, regardless of your race, the quip has some major Don Imus/Rush Limbaugh overtones.

    By the way, the color of your skin does not preclude your ability to make racially insensitive remarks. Not that you did it in this case. But for future reference, “I’m black” isn’t necessarily a valid defense.

  41. @ ArtModellsPimp

    The fact that you think “conducive” is a word used by someone with an elite vocabulary shows your level of intelligence clearly for all to see.

  42. @johntonioholmes …

    Think that was the most lucid, on-the-money post I’ve ever read on PFT. Beautiful.

    @ArtModellsPimp …

    You assume I think I’m soooo smart. I know my limitations better than anyone. You also assume I made an assumption about your race. Anyone can be racist. Or classist–deciding that a linebacker can’t understand the word conducive. The fact is that he does understand the word. And he’s done nothing to indicate that he doesn’t understand the rules. The only person who’s done that is Roger Goodell. James earned DPOY honors for the 2008 season hitting people exactly as he hits them now. He hasn’t changed and neither have the rules.

    Face it, love–you are the one being ridiculous. It was a stupid joke that sounded racist no matter what race you happen to be. Your defense that you are black, so you can’t be racist is nonsense. Your defense that James doesn’t understand the rules so he shouldn’t use big words is bizarre. Your assertion that I have or defend a favorite pervert is untrue … as you well know. So … you’ve struck out all the way ’round. Better luck next time.

  43. Harrison has every right to say what he is saying..he isnt complaining he is just taking a stand.he is the only one, man enough to stand up to godhell.

    @Deb good valid points on the guys who insult someone on there vocabulary…i know we dont agree on a lot of things but that is normal with anyone.but racist remarks are wrong so i am with you on that one

    just because a guy is black, asian’ yellow, doesn’t mean they aren’t smart…

  44. @Deb

    I’m not totally sure which comment you were remarking on, but I appreciate the compliment anyway.

    I don’t think I’ll ever get over the notion that just because one dislikes a player, means that one has to find a way to discredit everything the player says or does.

    Especially in the case of James Harrison. He’s one of the best players on one of the most complicated defenses ever devised. His pick 6 in the super bowl can be attributed entirely to his game savvy.

    But he must be a dumb player,

  45. @steelernation1 …

    It’s nice to be on the same page for a change! 🙂

    @johntonioholmes …

    Was talking about the comment to jpmelon re the straw man argument.

    With you on James. Think a lot of the comments about him are race-based, even if people aren’t conscious of it. He’s a big, muscular, dark-skinned black man who’s perfected his menacing stare. His appearance fits a stereotype, and I don’t think it’s coincidental that people keep ranting about him being a stupid thug. But in reality, he’s a smart, thoughtful man who clearly understands–and is frustrated by–many of the deeper issues in the labor negotiations and Goodell’s policies. And he has a brilliant deadpan sense of humor. He’s also a passionate person who sometimes says a lot more than he should. Can empathize because I have the same failing 🙂

  46. @Deb

    I could not agree more with your assessment. After he said he was going to retire, a few ESPN and SI writer wrote stories that were just dripping with racially condescending remarks about how stupid he is.

    He’s an easy target. Like you said, he’s big, mean and dark skinned. The NFL is trying to expand their demographic to older white women. How do they go about that? Well…I think we all know.

  47. I respected this guy once upon a time, but he’s devolved into a whiny cheap shot artist, much the same as his predecessor and teacher, Joey Porter. Grow the hell up. Respect isn’t earned taking cheap shots at unprotected players. This guy whines about a rule implemented because of his “freelancing” technique.

    Harrison thought his threat to retire would actually scare the league into rescinding an important change to the rules, and no one outside Pittsburgh gave a damn. Probably because no one buys in to his blustery hype, or felt he was more important than the rule.

    He sounds like an idiot when he opens his mouth too. Especially after this weeks Media Day. If you even think he doesn’t have an ejection hovering over his head after those antics, you are nuts. I prefer to beat them with him in, but I think Worilds would be just as effective.

    Classic case of an ego thinking he’s above the law.

  48. @shadowgm1

    You’ve clearly never watched Harrison in a game, and it’s patently obvious that you just don’t like the Steelers.

    This is a classic case of a bitter fan trying to rewrite history in order to satisfy a preconceived notion.

  49. Put goodall in a uniform. Give him the best helmet money can buy. Give him the ball on a kickoff return and make sure to tell the opposing team who he is. Thats the end of the 18 game season , Oh and him to………………………………..

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