James Harrison: I let up on Michael Vick so I wouldn’t get fined


Steelers linebacker James Harrison has led the league in fines for helmet-to-helmet hits over the last couple of years. After his first game this year, Harrison said those fines have changed the way he plays.

Harrison said that in Sunday’s win over the Eagles, he altered the way he pressured Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick, slowing down when he had a good shot at Vick because the possibility of getting fined was in his mind.

“I was nervous. I thought he might duck his head, and I might hit him, and I can’t take no fines,” Harrison said, via 105.9 in Pittsburgh “I was worried more about the fine. . . . If at the last second he ducks his head, ducks down and we make helmet-to-helmet contact, it’s the fault of the defender.”

Harrison, who said he would give himself a C-minus for his performance Sunday after a long layoff with a knee injury, clearly thinks it’s a bad thing that fines are forcing him to change the way he plays. But from the NFL’s perspective, that means the fines are having their intended effect.

63 responses to “James Harrison: I let up on Michael Vick so I wouldn’t get fined

  1. He has a valid point and it’s part of the reason we as fans are up in arms about it. If he lowers his head to make a tackle and the QB drops his head down at the last moment, it’s 15 yards and a few grand missing the following week. Intent should matter here is all I’m saying.

  2. Excellent point…when a defender goes to make a tackle they commit and if a QB ducks to avoid the rush and they happen to hit helmet to helmet then it is a penalty and a fine even though there was no intent…it is completely out of the defenders hands.

  3. Good! If players worried more about wrapping up their opponent and tackling them to the ground, instead of how hard they can hit them, hurt them, and looking cool, then the game will be better for it.

    Too many times do defensive players go for a big hit on an offensive player, instead of actually doing their job and tackling. Nearly every time someone tries to put a hit on someone instead of tackling them, the offensive player absorbs the hit and gets more yards. If they don’t, then the hit runs a risk of drawing a penalty or injuring the other player.

    I used to be all for big hits. Until I saw the defensive players on my team blowing and missing tackles because they didn’t actually wrap the guy up. I am over big hits. Do your job, wrap the guy up, tackle him, take him to the ground. Don’t try to look cool and kill the guy.

  4. Life changes, Mr. Harrison. Things that used to be OK, aren’t OK anymore. We use seatbelts now; people get in big trouble if you drive drunk (and years ago, very little happened to them); most pregnant women don’t smoke or drink while they are pregnant. Life changes and that’s the way it is.

  5. Should have been permanently expelled for his hit on Colt McCoy last season. He knew that Cleveland doesn’t have any players to protect anyone. The hit was completely unnecessary.

  6. Plenty of NFL players can rack up sacks and big hits without getting fined…DeMarcus Ware and Clay Matthews are doing just fine. James Harrison is just a moron.

  7. to all the sheep that say “good”, the fines are finally having their intended effect….watch as much football as you possibly can for however long you can. This sport will be extinct soon

  8. Watching games yesterday the refs were flag happy, the league must need some slush money. So I don’t blame Harrison, I think there were at least three teams with over 100 yards in penalties, so the money will flow. I defense is really at the mercy of the league on fines, really how many offensdive players get fined? They should start fining for all the offensive pass interference that was obvious in many games I saw yesterday, with no call. I forgot player safety.

  9. The NFL should pool together the fines and pay a portion out to players who make good clean legal hits…like Nick Perry. Then again, the NFL would never pay money to someone they arent forced to pay.

  10. Why does this guy even open his mouth. Oh, he was asked a question on a radio show.

    Why does the Steelers FO let this guy open his mouth?

    Just shut up James………………

  11. This eye opening event, MAY help you when you are 50 years old.
    Just tackle him. You don’t have to light him up.
    If you need to get your jollies, try wrestling a lion or cape buffalo and report back how well you did

  12. He is just mad, as is the whole Steeler organization, that they can’t purposely hurt people and take them out of the game without getting fined.

  13. captainstabbins says:
    Oct 8, 2012 1:00 PM
    Wish he would have taken him out so than we can have Foles as our QB instead of that brainless turnover machine.

    You are wishing for your QB to get taken out by an injury while calling him brainless.

    Look up irony, genius.

  14. This system is WRONG!!!!! How can the league expect any defender to be able to anticipate what any QB, RB or WR is going to do with their head. They know that they will get 15 yards tacked on so they drop their head down to make sure there is contact and it’s called every time! Ryan Mundy got called for it yesterday against the Eagles and he never made any contact with the head

  15. myplayoffbeard says:
    Oct 8, 2012 1:03 PM
    As Nick Perry of the Packers learned yesterday, there is absolutely no legal way to hit a qb anymore


    Sure there is.

  16. You are wishing for your QB to get taken out by an injury while calling him brainless.

    Look up irony, genius.

    Irony (from the Ancient Greek εἰρωνεία eirōneía, meaning dissimulation or feigned ignorance)[1] is a rhetorical device, literary technique, or situation in which there is an incongruity between the literal and the implied meaning. No written method for indicating irony exists, though an irony (punctuation) mark has been proposed. In the 1580s, Henry Denham introduced a rhetorical question mark or percontation point which looks like a reversed question mark. This mark was also proposed by the French poet Marcel Bernhardt at the end of the 19th century to indicate irony or sarcasm.
    Ironic statements (verbal irony)[2] are statements that imply a meaning in opposition to their literal meaning. A situation is often said to be ironic (situational irony) if there is an “incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.”[3] The discordance of verbal irony may be deliberately created as a means of communication (as in art or rhetoric). Descriptions or depictions of situational irony, whether in fiction or in non-fiction, serves the communicative function of sharpening or highlighting certain discordant features of reality. Verbal and situational irony are often used for emphasis in the assertion of a truth. The ironic form of simile, used in sarcasm, and some forms of litotes emphasize one’s meaning by the deliberate use of language which states the opposite of the truth — or drastically and obviously understates a factual connection.
    In dramatic irony, the author causes a character to speak or act erroneously, out of ignorance of some portion of the truth of which the audience is aware. In other words, the audience knows the character is making a mistake, even as the character is making it. This technique highlights the importance of a particular truth by portraying a person who is strikingly unaware of it.

  17. If you look at the heavy hitters from years past, few of them rapped up on every play. Night Train? Are you kidding? Night Train’s highlight hits were usually killshots to the head or neck, with a couple in the upper torso. Ever hear of the Night Train Necktie? That was even nastier – basically a clothesline job.

    Jack “The Assassin” Tatum, in my opinion, was one of the pioneers of the missile-based devastating hit. And Tatum was exceptionally good at it. Would The Assassin have a career in today’s NFL with the climate the way it is?

    Football is a physical game. It’s a dangerous game. Many of us who’ve played assumed risks at varying levels and been injured in the short and/or long-term. People who are risk-averse should play a sport without risks of this nature.

    Football is meant to test a man’s ability in so many ways. Savvy, athleticism, strength, speed, explosion, etc. But one of those is the heart/courage element. Football is not meant for everybody.

  18. In a league where a clean sack is ruled a penalty (see Nick Perry) who knows what is clean hit these days. I guess he is learning Warden Goodell ways .

  19. If a QB breaks the pocket and runs towards the line of scrimmage then decides to throw the ball at the last second that’s on them! (Colt McCoy) tried to run,throw and SLIDE at the same damn time! WTF is any defender suppose to do? That call on Mundy was complete BS. RG3 was sliding and got his brain rattled.. was there any flag? Do ya job 92 this isn’t flag football!

  20. I remember that specific hit on Vick and immediately thinking, “wow, Harrison laid a perfect shoulder and arms hit on Vick, he can’t be fined for that”. As a Steeler fan, I can live with Harrison hitting like that (and maybe harder), as long as he hits with his shoulder and wraps his arms around the ball carrier. I do agree it is almost impossible to know how a carrier is going to duck his head or turn his body, so even going in and making a hit like Harrison did, he could still get a fine, the way things are. And things are different now than they were years ago. Players like Jack Lambert, Mel Blount, Mean Joe and Dick Butkus hit other players much worse and harder than Harrison, and were never fined. Things are different, over the past 3 years or so particularly.

  21. “But from the NFL’s perspective, that means the fines are having their intended effect.”

    The intended effect of masking the real problem, that is.

    I have been saying this for the last 2 years: If a defender makes his target zone 3 feet above the ground, and the offensive player starts to fall over thereby making his head a mere 3 feet above the ground, the defender gets fined when there is otherwise NOTHING that he could have done.

    Intent should matter.

    But aside from that, the fines don’t change the fact that this is simply an inherently dangerous game.

    Every time you get tackled or tackle someone, your brain gets rattled and sustains micro-trauma. “Legal” tackles may cause less concussions, but over time, repeated rocking of the brain can have the same effect as a single sustained concussion.

  22. @rr2000k …

    Those of us who actually listen to Harrison and read his interviews and comments know he’s a smart, perceptive guy who’s worked hard to elevate his game and become one of the best linebackers in football. Yes, he gets frustrated when told to stop using the identical techniques that won him Defensive Player of the Year for the ’08 season. So would I … and so would you. But being frustrated doesn’t make him stupid. And I have to wonder what it is about you and some of the other commenters here that makes you assume he is stupid. Your posts say a lot more about your character than they do about Harrison’s.

  23. Please, you had a bad game, your age and injuries are catching up to you. He never cared about fines before, why start now?

    But on a side note, if a player lowers their head then the,helmet to helmet rule shouldn’t count.

  24. 100% agreement with Deb’s comment. Harrison may appear to the untrained eye to be a mindless brute — but he is intelligent, thoughtful and introspective. Some of you guys really need to listen to where he’s coming from. Open-minded, of course.

    He’s also witty (another telltale sign of intellect). Some of his legendary comments are well-established and easy to track down.

    Harrison is a smart, hard-nosed, physical player who nuts up, plays through pain, balls out and along the way, he throws some big boy kisses on his opponents. Great player. Not only that — but a thinker too.

  25. The NFL really doesn’t have a choice. They have to make the game safer. You can’t run a business where your employees suffer from life long brain injuries. The NFL could do that when it didn’t know better, but now everyone knows better.

  26. The only way to guarantee avoiding helmet-to-helmet hits is to leave your head in the car when you arrive. This strategy works for Roger Goodell.

  27. Roger Goodell has ruined the game of football, they might as well play with a nerf – ball.

  28. Harrison thinks fans are all a bunch of starstruck children and we’ll believe anything.
    I can’t wait for a rookie to take him out. Again.

  29. Translation: “Vick is my dude and I don’t want to see him sidelined for weeks.”

    Very classy of Harrison. It’s not a coincidence he takes pleasure in beating up the likes of Colt McCoy. Put two and two together people.

  30. I am all for player safety and protecting guys. However there are some facts that can’t be changed. This is Football, this is a collision sport, not a contact sport. Clean hard hits are good, but dirty hard hits definitely are not.

    For example if the ball fell to the ground half an hour ago then he shouldn’t be lit up to kingdom come. Another problem is when a plaer catches a pass, the defender hits the guy cleanly to cause an incompletion (it works) and they get penalized. In that scenario, simply going in slower and wrapping up doesn’t do jack. The pass is complete and the defense gets criticized for giving up the pass. In that case what should the defender do?

    I actually can believe Harrison because he not only has been fined in the past, he has been warned. That’s right warned as in not fining but suspension. He already was suspended before so how long would the next one be? Harrison probably has that in mind when he said what he said.

  31. If Harrison really is an intelligent guy and a thinker as some of you claim, then that makes him even WORSE. Because then it means the ridiculous stuff that happens on the field, comes out of his mouth, and winds up in magazines isn’t a thoughtless mistake – it’s exactly what he intends.

  32. So many guys in the NFL learned early on to use their helmet like a hammer…Harrison is obviously one of these guys…He uses his helmet to inflict pain.

    Gonna be hard for him, and so many others…to “un-learn” this…

    My only question is this…

    Why would he pick Mike Vick as the guy to let-up on? The referees and the league don’t fine people for hitting Vick…the guy gets hit in the head…gets his facemask pulled…hit “below the knee” while in the pocket multiple times, every game…

    No fines…heck, they never even call the penalties.

    Seems to me, he coulda got right into his usual routine w/o worrying about a thing.

  33. Now that the NFL knows concussions can cause cause long-term disability and even death, it has a moral and legal obligation to try and make a dangerous sport less risky. Fans who piss and moan about Goodell ruining the game remind me of spectators complaining there arent enough wrecks in a NASCAR race. Or ancient Romans who watched gladiators and complained there wasn’t enough bloodshed.
    James Harrison IS articulate and intelligent. He is also a head-hunting cheap shot artist who cries everytime he gets fined for making what are now illegal hits. If Harrison hates it so much, he can quit at any time. Just like fans can stop watching if they hate the new rules that are in place to promote player safety.
    And somewhere in Buffalo, Mario Williams is saying “why didn’t I think of that excuse?”

  34. Why don’t we just wrap all the players in bubble wrap, and place them in cocoons filled with styrofoam peanuts? Helmets don’t stop concussions and neither would any of those tactics. If you want to change the way they play, then go back to leather helmets. That’ll stop guys from leading with the head.

  35. As a die-hard Eagles fan who is growing increasingly tired of this horrible paper-thin RB who thinks he’s a QB, I wish Harrison would’ve levelled him a couple times and knocked him out of the game. Vick brings hits like that on himself by having no pocket presence, no ability to read anything and no common sense. Quite frankly, he’s a bloody liability.

    I am not misguided enough to think that Nick Foles is the second coming of Christ, but he certainly can’t do any worse than ELEVEN freaking turnovers in 5 games. Vick makes terrible decisions, cant read defences, cant outrun anyone anymore, and quite simply, is NOT worth the $16m they’re paying him. If anyone thinks Vick is just miraculously going to turn into some top-tier QB, you’re dreaming. I’ve watched this guy play for two years and he is nothing near what this offence needs.

    Forget the fact that the coaching staff has failed this team with horrible playcalling and terrible/questionable game planning, but to run this imbecile out there every week just to see him cough up the ball, or a lung (whichever comes up first), is downright frustrating.

    He is no good. The sooner the Eagles move on from him the better.

    I couldnt care less about his criminal acts, they’re in the past… what I care about is his terrible on-field performance. He’s gotta go.

  36. Wish he would have taken him out so than we can have Foles as our QB instead of that brainless turnover machine.

    Don’t worry Suh will take him out.

  37. I agree with the wrap up and tackle comments and that’s how Harrison tackles; however, since one cannot hit a quarterback below the knees and if he bends down with his helmet at waist level where does one hit him to wrap him up and bring him down without drawing a penalty and paying a fine?

  38. Wow – I never knew there was so much animosity toward Vick! Guess once you “go the dogs”….

    I have to agree with the bulk of the posts, yes tackle the guy, no need to ring his bell and take him out of the game via an injury.

    Perhaps we all need to re-write the NFL tackling manual so there is no need for ambiguity among the players – title it “Dummies guide to fine-free tackling?”

  39. to all the idiots in here putting harrison down for his comment?i do not think you people are smart enough to understand what he is getting at.

    he is saying that the way the rule states if a defender hits helmet to helmet it is automatic fine.but what the rule needs to be stated as,if a defender tackles a QB or receiver and the ball carrier at last second ducks his head then it should not be a penalty or fine.i think a lot of coaches are telling there players to duck down to get the penalty.the same as a pathetic receiver not making a catch always looks for the interference penalty…all wrong if you ask me..this game is turning into a sissy sport and all the enjoyment of watching is going out the window. the defender gets paid to stop offenses and if they re gonna get penalized for a hit that was more the offensive players fault then why bother playing the gme at all…

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