James Harrison lashes out at reaction to his “envelope” claim

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As James Harrison’ agent tries to put the toothpaste back in the tube, Harrison has dropped a bowling ball on it.

In an Instragram post addressing the reaction to Harrison’s claim that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin gave Harrison “an envelope” after Harrison was fined $75,000 for an illegal hit in 2010, Harrison angrily pushes back against the reaction to his comments. In so doing, Harrison never says that Tomlin actually didn’t give him an envelope; if anything, Harrison’s latest comments confirm it.

“Wow y’all really comparing what I said to BOUNTYGATE?!?” Harrison said. “Mike T. Has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY!

“If you knew the full story of what happened back then you’d know that BS fine for a Legal Play wasn’t even penalized during the game. The league was getting pressure because the first concussion lawsuits were starting and they had to look like they cared about player safety all of a sudden. Before that they had been SELLING a photo of THAT SAME PLAY FOR $55 on the NFL website with other videos of the NFL’S GREATEST HITS that the league Profited On back then.

“When the league had to start pretending like they cared about player safety they took all those things down off their website and they started fining guys ridiculous amounts for the same plays they used to profit off of. EVERYBODY knew it — even these same media people and all the fans that were sending money to me and the team to cover the fine. AGAIN AT NO TIME did Mike T. EVER suggest anybody hurt anybody or that they’d be rewarded for anything like that. GTFOH with that BS!!! #receipts.”

Harrison’s comments underscore the mindset that existed in 2010, as the NFL (voluntarily or not) became more concerned about player health and safety. Plenty of players and coaches believed that the fines and flags for illegal hits to the head and/or neck of defenseless players amounted to “BS,” and that the sudden urgency to eradicate hits that previously had been celebrated was hypocritical.

Tomlin, as Harrison explains it, wasn’t paying Harrison for incapacitating an opponent. Tomlin was compensating Harrison for a “BS fine” imposed by the league for a legal play. It’s very easy to justify the gesture, if coach and player are convinced that the league is out of line.

So while the envelope wasn’t part of a bounty program, it violated the rules — and it incentivized Harrison and other Steelers players to continue to play the way they were being coached to play, if the league office was intent on meting out “BS fines” for hits the Steelers deemed to be legal.

Arguably, this is even worse than the bounty scandal. The Saints (and other teams) rewarded players for clean, legal hits that sent opponents to the sideline. There was no evidence that the Saints rewarded players for illegal hits.

Tomlin, if Harrison is telling the truth, replaced part or all of the money lost by Harrison for playing the game the way Tomlin believes (or at least believed) it should be played, in defiance of the league office.

Still, look for the league to do nothing. Even as Harrison makes it more and more clear that the rules were broken. And if Tomlin did it as to Harrison’s $75,000 fine in 2010, it’s not unreasonable to wonder whether other players who absorbed “BS fines” for hits that Tomlin believed to be legal received similar envelopes.

74 responses to “James Harrison lashes out at reaction to his “envelope” claim

  1. Soooooooooo, teams are allowed to pay the fines of the players. If that’s the case, then all of the owners should start telling their players that they’ll take care of thier fines. Wait, maybe that’s already happening….

  2. I have no dog in this hunt, but, let’s be honest here: Would anybody here really be surprised to find out that NFL teams sometimes pay off their players’ fines? If not with an envelope, but as a little adjustment on their next contract or bonus payment?

  3. Okay, from what I’m getting from this is that if he’s telling the truth, Tomlin didn’t put a bounty on anybody but payed off one of James Harrison’s fines. Which I have nothing against however this entire scandal could of been avoided IF James Harrison articulated that in the first place.

    Taking him at face value – James created his scandal by not picking his words wisely because it sounded exactly like a bounty the way he originally stated it. He has only himself to blame by not choosing his words wisely.

  4. Wait, so Harrison is mad because people don’t know all the facts or the whole story, despite the fact that he didn’t tell all the facts or the whole story? He let out the juicy tidbits with enough inference that we could deduce what happened and is mad that we deduced what happened? Sounds about right.

  5. Bottom line is and always has been this – if you’re scared about getting hurt then don’t play football, because injuries are a big part of a sport that requires the use of pads and helmets.

  6. He lost me when he said he “would’ve killed him” if it hadn’t been for new protocols. Hard to believe anything else the guy says about any of this when that was his attitude.

  7. Harrison is telling the truth. No one else can or will at this point.

    The 75 Gs (source unknown) was in the envelope and handed to him by Tomlin.

    I’ll bet most fans don’t have a feeling one way or the other about it. I know I don’t.

  8. Lots of coaches and teams have paid or reimbursed questionable fines … The hypocrisy that Harrison points out in the NFL offices about “Jacked Up” hits is justifiable too … The NFL and its films have always profited off violent hits, and the game HAS watered down since the Bounty game against Brett Favre in the 2009/10 Championship game …

  9. Well, he’s not wrong. NFL always promoted the big hits then did a 180 on the issue.

  10. orivar says:
    May 15, 2020 at 11:51 am
    Okay, from what I’m getting from this is that if he’s telling the truth, Tomlin didn’t put a bounty on anybody but payed off one of James Harrison’s fines. Which I have nothing against however this entire scandal could of been avoided IF James Harrison articulated that in the first place.

    Taking him at face value – James created his scandal by not picking his words wisely because it sounded exactly like a bounty the way he originally stated it. He has only himself to blame by not choosing his words wisely.
    ————————————————–

    Well, you may not have anything against it, but paying someone else’s fine is against the NFLs rules. So unless you are Roger Goodell, it doesn’t really matter if you have “nothing against it”.

  11. “If not with an envelope, but as a little adjustment on their next contract or bonus payment?”
    ____________

    Honestly, the only surprise here is that they were that direct about it. There must be a thousand ways to cover a fine on the sly. He earns some bonus nobody had heard of before, he gets paid for some appearance that he doesn’t end up having to make, his favorite charity gets a nice donation from the team….

  12. James Harrison,if you as a dummy hadn’t made the public comment then no one would be making comparisons.

  13. Forget the bounty part, how is the practice not circumventing the salary cap? A player got money, which does not count against the cap, for football related activities. I guess it is OK because it was not from the owner (it was from Tomlin) and it wasn’t one of the franchises on Goodell’s “mean people” list.

  14. Under Tomlin, Steelers players have routinely led with their helmets. In 2017, the NFL fined, Ryan Shazier, William Gay and J.J. Wilcox for three separate hits in one game against the Browns. The Shazier one was a blatant “spearing” job on Browns QB DeShone Kizer. No doubt Tomlin (or his staff) was still encouraging these hits by 2017.

    Tomlin giving an envelope in 2010? Totally believable.

  15. So let’s hear the full story?

    The problem is that he didn’t think before he spoke. He implicated himself and his coach for no reason. Every option is a bad option from this point.

  16. Never liked Harrison but I thought that was a good play he made. But of course I’m not a millennial.

  17. Hes not wrong, but I’m surprised hes running his mouth. I expect better from him than to be dry snitching.

  18. James,……
    Perhaps if you had kept your mouth shut you wouldn’t be dealing with the lashback of commentary,…. right ?? What were your intentions when you blurted that tidbit out ?

  19. Oh brother. Still no mention of everything else Harrison said in that interview? He is a disgruntled ex-employee who has been motivated against the Steelers by “spite.” There is no reason to believe him.

  20. Take about double dipping: the NFL sold photos of the hit on its website while fining the player for making the hit. The logic escapes.

  21. correctingerrors says:
    May 15, 2020 at 11:50 am
    Still doesn’t get it. Would have been better for him to keep his mouth shut
    *****************************************
    There’s nothing to get, the man is an idiot.

    He’s still digging his own hole and doesn’t realize it.

  22. If a player gets an “envelope” outside of his contract that’s salary cap circumvention, and that’s clear cause for fines and forfeiture of draft picks.

  23. Never really was a fan but he really hit the nail on the head with this one. The NFL drips with Hypocracy.

  24. One thing people have forgotten when all this waa going down, after Hines Ward was fined for one of his many dirty hits he admittted “we are coached to do that.”

  25. I have always assumed that teams have wink and nod agreements with the players to cover fines. As another poster commented there are so many ways to get away with it. I just never figured someone would be stupid or malcontent enough to tattle tale.

  26. Harrison is out of the league, so he has zero to lose and zero to gain. Just pointing out things that happened. And this doesn’t really surprise me. That division was proudly “smash mouth football” and “nasty” so it’s probably the most fined division in the league. Not shocked guys got help with their fines.

  27. Teams still do things like bountygate, they just aren’t dumb enough to talk about it to the public. This isn’t a game played by the well adjusted.

  28. Well Mr. Harrison, to say this isn’t similar to Bounty Gate is pretty wrong. Since you decided to open your mouth about the story there’s actually more evidence of wrong doing in your case than there was in the Saints case. There’s only one situation out of the two where there was actual money or “an envelope” exchanging hands. And that is yours!!!

  29. This happened at a time of transition. Always interesting how the owners are held to a standard above the players in one instance, then held more responsible on others.

    The players loved hitting and staying in Games even when they knew they should not…. but get no blame, then sues. The NFL immediately decides they need to make changes.

    Then they start fining people to ensure they get the message….so the team decides to take responsibility for the fine in the transition….yes they broke the rule….but am pretty sure i heard lots of arguments that the teams should be paying the fine.

    Now people are upset to know in a certain instance the team might have?

    smh.

  30. This story is probably going to be talked about for the next week. can’t wait for live sports to come back. So happy the UFC is back at least.

  31. You got helped out with the fine. You took the check. Show some gratefulness and respect ….and shut up about it. Punk move

  32. It almost sounds like he didnt know there was anything wrong with getting an envelope full of cash. Probably had it done a bunch of times, and thought it was accepted practice.

  33. So why did he even mention it in the first place? I’m sure the entire Rooney family is in full cover up mode.

  34. Steeler fans are trying to use this as an opportunity to force the Rooneys to finally replace Tomlin…

  35. “Arguably, this is even worse than the bounty scandal. The Saints (and other teams) rewarded players for clean, legal hits that sent opponents to the sideline. There was no evidence that the Saints rewarded players for illegal hits.”

    The Steelers will get away with it, everybody knows that. They are one of the “chosen” teams in the NFL and the NFL/NYC squad will do nothing to them. The Saints did FAR less, they just kept their pocket change incentive program, which almost every team had at the time, for clean legal hits in place after the NFL said to stop it. A practice that many other NFL teams continued. The Saints were railroaded, had their coach suspended for a year without pay, GM suspended and they had two second round picks taken away. That was all as cover for the NFL making it look like they cared about player safety during the concussion lawsuit era. The NFL doesn’t care about player safety, the NFL cares about MONEY!

    Do what is right, torch the Steelers, you know they did it, there’s a napkin with notes on it and “50,000 pages of evidence” lying around somewhere. It has to be true if Roger says it is true.

  36. Tomlin didn’t pay him for the hit, he paid him to help cover a BS fine Harrison received AFTER the game. It’s no different than you getting a parking ticket and your Dad handing you cash to pay for it because he disagreed with the ticket.

  37. steaksandwichandsteaksandwich says:
    May 15, 2020 at 12:27 pm
    Under Tomlin, Steelers players have routinely led with their helmets. In 2017, the NFL fined, Ryan Shazier, William Gay and J.J. Wilcox for three separate hits in one game against the Browns. The Shazier one was a blatant “spearing” job on Browns QB DeShone Kizer. No doubt Tomlin (or his staff) was still encouraging these hits by 2017.

    Tomlin giving an envelope in 2010? Totally believable.

    —-

    This team as a whole has made leading with the helmet a part of their play since the Joey Porter & Hines Ward days. Guys like Mike Mitchell made it a part of their game, and the staff hasn’t done much to discourage it (or at least there’s no evidence in their on-the-field play of it). These players tend to avoid flags but later get fines after the fact. If the team is taking care of these fines it would explain why they seem so comfortable playing this way

  38. I think the league is rife with all of payoffs and bounties, etc. It’s an ultra competitive game where careers are short and very few make it to that level. Players, coaches, execs, do whatever they can to survive and maintain their big positions and salaries. I don’t blame them one bit. I would do it in their shoes. Like I would take steroids or whatever I needed to enhance my performance. If it means the difference between a 5 figure annual salary and a 7 figure salary, I’m doing it in a heart beat.

    Even though the Steelers are one my least favorite teams, if Harrison and Tomlin were on my team and did this, I wouldn’t care one bit.

  39. so you are saying a team may have reimbursed the player for the fine?? that never happens said the tooth fairy

  40. Show me the proof.

    He said, she said, 8-10 years later is not proof.

  41. James Harrison is a SNITCH. Coach does him a SOLID and Pays his fine for him…Coach has his back…and James Harrison SNITCHES.

  42. killerkowal says:
    May 15, 2020 at 3:02 pm
    Tomlin could commit a major crime and Steeler fans would back him 100%.

    Most Steelers fans have disliked Tomlin for years and just want him gone.

  43. No one had to know. I think he knew this would cause controversy. This is him greeting back at the Steelers..

  44. Lisa Friel doesn’t think anything happened, this doesn’t affect the Giants.

  45. NFL fines are just like all Major League sports fines. They are paid to the league office and sent to a league charity. That way, the offending player gets to claim a charitable deduction on his taxes. In essence, they really don’t pay because the deduction affects their AGI.

  46. People talk about how they respect Harrison and his willingness to talk openly about his time in the NFL .

    I’m thinking it’s less an open honesty thing and more stupid doesn’t know when to shut up thing.

  47. I dont understand the problem. Whether the envelope violated some NFL rule, it was hardly bountygate. This was a coach helping with a fine that should have never been fined in the first place. No issue with this one at all. Yall just need something to complain about due to being quarantined in your homes. Get a life. No story here.

  48. Harrison Dry Snitching… why even open your mouth… should of taken that to the grave bro.

  49. Still, look for the league to do nothing. Even as Harrison makes it more and more clear that the rules were broken.
    ————————-
    Bingo! It’s the sainted Rooneys,Maras, etc. not that damn belichick and kraft who keep defying parity no matter what we do to screw them.

  50. “So while the envelope wasn’t part of a bounty program, it violated the rules — and it incentivized Harrison and other Steelers players to continue to play the way they were being coached to play, if the league office was intent on meting out “BS fines” for hits the Steelers deemed to be legal.”

    ————————————————————-

    Excuse me but…no big deal. The league DOES hand out “BS fines” even today, and you yourself have complained about them in other areas-anything from shoe dress code violations to “illegal hits” that were in no way the fault of the defender. Would you have a problem with a coach or team paying it off? Maybe, just maybe, they’re not doing it to incentivize players to hit each other harder. Maybe they’re doing it to say “thank you for putting yourself at risk for us, and we have your back.”

    The team should be paying the fines anyway, not the players. That would quit hurting the players (who always always always play defense) and incentivize the teams to not sign guys who are repeat offenders. But no, it’s probably best to let the players’ appeals get denied by the league and pay for an arbitrary assessment by someone else about how they hit someone else. The league got safer through this, yes, but it also expanded the bounds of what is considered illegal to the point where natural and necessary contact is lumped in with excessive contact. The offense has a clear and distinct advantage over the defense, and on top of that, the defenders themselves have to pay for it. Tomlin helping out his player-if he did it-is less concerning to me than the league turning a blind eye to how its offensive players exploit its player safety rules to gain an advantage if I had to weight the two. And fining James Harrison, who was an unsafe player for the record, while selling his hits on their website is bogus. He already paid them their fine tenfold in all likelihood. No, I do not want Harrison type hits legal across the board in football. But no, I also do not think it’s a big deal that his coach didn’t want it coming out of his wallet.

  51. Steelers again caught in a copycat scandal. They have been caught twice with low psi after deflategate, tried tripping a player from sidelines and now this. I don’t really care but it’s telling that the NFL doesn’t seem to either.

  52. Harrison’s job is not player safety. On this particular play he did not go helmet to helmet and separated the player from the ball. A hard full speed hit that was so hard that the NFL profited from it by selling the video. No flag on the play because it was legal. Vicious? Certainly. Legal however and that’s why it is considered a b.s. fine.

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