James Harrison: Mike Tomlin “handed me an envelope” after hit that drew $75,000 fine

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On October 17, 2010, the NFL changed. Dramatically. And it happened in roughly 15 minutes of real time, with a trio of devastating, and illegal, hits: Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather on Ravens tight end Todd Heap; Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson on Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, and Steelers linebacker James Harrison on Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.

Coming less than a year after the NFL’s Congressionally-sparked concussion epiphany, the bang-bang-bang of these bang-bang plays forcing the NFL to make major changes. Specifically, the league immediately beefed up the enforcement of rules against blows to the head and neck of defenseless receivers.

The league also fined Meriweather $50,000, Robinson $50,000, and Harrison $75,000.

Harrison complained about the fine at the time, suggesting that he may retire. He didn’t. But something else, according to him, did happen.

Appearing on the Barstool Sports “Going Deep” podcast (via TMZ.com), Harrison claimed that coach Mike Tomlin had a gift for Harrison.

“I ain’t gonna lie to you, when that happened, right?” Harrison said. “The G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that. . . . I ain’t gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.”

It could have been $75,000. It could have been the after-tax net of the $75,000 that Harrison lost. It could have been any amount, if it indeed happened. Harrison says it did. NFL rules are clear that fine amounts must come from the player who is being punished, with no reimbursement from the team or anyone else.

Obviously, there are two sides to the story. But why would Harrison lie? He’s not a disgruntled former employee trying to stick it to Tomlin. Harrison possibly got a little too comfortable and a little too candid about the events, without realizing the potential consequences.

Bolstering the possibility that Harrison didn’t realize the minefield into which he was walking is the fact that Harrison believed it was a legal hit. So too did Tomlin and team owner Art Rooney II.

I think the play was a legal hit,” Rooney said at the time. “It’s on the borderline, though.”

Harrison also said that, if he’d known he was going to lose $75,000 for the infraction, he would have gotten his money’s worth.

“Listen, on everything I love, on my daddy’s grave, I hit that man with about 50 percent of what I had and I just hit him because I wanted him to let loose of the ball,” Harrison said. “If I had knew they was gonna fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him.”

In early 2012, the NFL suspended Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and coach Sean Payton for a full year, due to a bounty program that culminated in specific offers of cash for clean, legal hits during the 2009 postseason that rendered opponents unable to continue. There was never a suggestion that Williams or Payton or anyone else paid any player for a hit that was deemed to be illegal. If Harrison is telling the truth, that’s precisely what Tomlin did.

The Steelers have not responded to a text message from PFT seeking comment on the matter. The NFL separately has declined comment.

Given that the incident predated the bounty scandal — and in light of the fact that the NFL poured cement into an obvious rabbit hole of proof that other teams had done the same thing — chances are the NFL won’t poke around at a long-healed scar.

Still, Harrison said what he said. And if the league does nothing about it, others like (Williams and Payton) have reason to be curious at a minimum.

45 responses to “James Harrison: Mike Tomlin “handed me an envelope” after hit that drew $75,000 fine

  1. What’s more, if the League does nothing, the Pats should be just as outraged as anyone else! I’m not a Pats fan. In fact, I’m a Bears fan, so I have no skin in this issue. But Tomlin and/or the Steelers should face ramifications of this is true. Whether or not if can be proven is another story, of course. But the Steelers AND NFL should at least address it, deny it and at least feign indignation at the mere suggestion of it.

  2. Players Salary >Coaches Salary…it was probably a gift certificate for a steak at Sizzler.

  3. And absolutely nothing will come of this, because they’re the Steelers.

    Cue disgruntled Patriots fans who (rightly) feel a double standard when it comes to suspected infractions (real or otherwise).

  4. The Noble Prize says:
    May 14, 2020 at 6:07 pm
    Sounds like cheating the salary cap too.
    ————————————————————————————
    The Steelers lost a third round pick in 2001 for violating the cap with payments to Wil Wilford.

  5. Harrison has never gotten over the fact that he received little playtime in his final season as a steeler. I don’t trust anything he has to say about the Steelers anymore.

  6. Chris Flynn says:
    May 14, 2020 at 6:15 pm
    What’s more, if the League does nothing, the Pats should be just as outraged as anyone else! I’m not a Pats fan. In fact, I’m a Bears fan, so I have no skin in this issue. But Tomlin and/or the Steelers should face ramifications of this is true. Whether or not if can be proven is another story, of course. But the Steelers AND NFL should at least address it, deny it and at least feign indignation at the mere suggestion of it.

    ============================

    That’s a nice sentiment, but after the Steelers were caught with deflated footballs twice, in the past 4 years, with no penalty either time, nothing is going to happen to them now. Remember, though, Goodell applies the rules equally to every team.

  7. You mean Tomlin, the guy that steps into a player as he’s running by, does shady stuff, too?

    In the words of Forky, “Whaaat??!! Nnnooo!”

  8. sirspoogealot says:

    remove tomlin from the league
    =======================================

    For passing an envelope from Rooney to Harrison? Because you know Tomlin didn’t pay anything.

  9. Saints demand an explanation! Note to Steelers, bend over and take it, it will hurt, but its better than 10 plus years of bad calls for questioning the Comish.

  10. Mark my words, the league will never punish the Steelers for this.
    ————————————————————————————
    They didn’t even throw a flag when an assistant coach walked out to the middle of the field and started a fight with the opposing team during a playoff game time out with millions of people watching. Do you think they’re going to do something done behind closed doors? The league let the Stealers steal a playoff game from the Bengals and a Lombardi from the Seahawks. They will do nothing. Godell admitted it when Rooney died. “We talked almost everyday”

  11. So, year long suspension, fines, and missing draft picks are incoming, right?

    Any second now…

    Don’t hold your breath…Steelers are not the Saints

  12. Could have been coupons to Popeyes for all we know?

    By the time 2012 came along, Harrison had already made a nice nickel in the NFL. If he was hit with a $75k fine, he wasn’t starving. It’s not like Tomlin needed to take out a collection plate or anything.

    Now if he were some undrafted FA in 2012, yeah… $75k is a big deal.

  13. Tomlin tried to trip a player in the field of play and kept his job. I don’t know how this will change anything.
    I do know James Harrison tried to intentionally injure players during the game. If you’ve never seen him hit Colt McCoy on a prime time game watch it. Enough said.

  14. NFL has lost its way if they don’t investigate this. If true, minimum one year suspension for Tomlin & owner along with loss of multiple 1st round draft picks. This is just as bad or worse than the Saints bounty program

  15. Should be banned from league, already tried to trip a player. He doesn’t care
    For players well being.

  16. The NFL only enforces rules when it suits them, and somehow the Saints have pissed them off. This is a bounty if I’ve ever seen one, and it’s a clear violation of the salary cap, and it just stinks that the NFL cannot provide a fair playing field.

  17. Taking the $$, and later talking about it? C’Mon Man!

    Snitching on your team, coach and self?

    You know better than to do that James.

  18. He should also tell us how he went from being cut by NFL-Europe to being built like The Rock a year later after joining the Steelers and meeting with Dr. Rydze.

  19. WOW…. bountygate II just got started? He obviously didn’t learn his lesson after his tripping jncident? He may be digging deeper for this fine & maybe even a paycheck?

  20. Why would he say that? Even if it happened. I just don’t get it. What does he have to gain? Why?

  21. I would say normally that this is made up because players are too smart to let this kind of thing leak if it’s legitimate…but this is James Harrison who famously got in trouble for posing with all his guns, so sounds legit. Good job throwing your coach under the bus

  22. James, IRS here.
    There doesn’t seem to be an entry under miscellaneous income for something you got in an envelope that year?

  23. I wonder if the IRS will look at whether Harrison declared that income on his tax return that year.

  24. I think a lot of teams covered for fines levied by the NFL on players.
    Especially questionable calls.
    I don’t believe it’s a bounty.
    It’s probably the wrong thing to do,… but that’s life in the big city.

  25. Goodell should just cut to the chase and take away a draft pick from New England. He can cite the reason being Harrison finished his career with NE.

  26. wow. blatant violation and yet we have the steelers fanbase justify anything. Maybe a little honor and morals would help this team

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