The longtime agent for former Steelers linebacker James Harrison hadn’t heard his client’s insinuation that coach Mike Tomlin “handed me an envelope” for a vicious hit which drew a hefty fine.
So when a reporter asked him about it, it was news to him on several levels.
“Absolutely not. Never happened,” agent Bill Parise told Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I would have known that. It didn’t happen.”
Harrison was fined $75,000 for a hit on Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. He wasn’t flagged on the play, and Parise said the amount of the fine was eventually reduced even though Harrison lost his appeal.
“James’ hit was unquestionably brutal,” Parise said, “but it was absolutely legal.”
Parise retired in 2019, but said he still advises Harrison.
“James and I are still together,” he said. “We were really close during our 18 years. He would have said something along the way.”
The Steelers put out a statement from owner Art Rooney II that cast similar doubt on Harrison’s claim.
“I am very certain nothing like this ever happened,” Rooney said in a statement from the team to PFT. “I have no idea why James would make a comment like this but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”
So far Tomlin hasn’t addressed the issue, though Saints coach Sean Payton has expressed skepticism that the league will look deeply into the matter.