Does James Harrison Deserve a Fine and/or Suspension for Violent Play?

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 03: James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers wears a pink chin strap for breast cancer awareness prior to playing the Baltimore Ravens on October 3, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)The Browns are certainly familiar this season with violent hits and the consequences that come with them. Earlier this season, Browns rookie safety T.J. Ward was fined $15,000 for his hit on Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley, resulting in a concussion. On Sunday, Steelers linebacker James Harrison added to a multitude of vicious hits around the league by taking out both Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi.

To take a player out of the game is not necessarily frowned on, especially when it is completely unintentional, but it’s another thing when these hits are blows to the head that come without any remorse. The way Harrison was talking about it after the game, one would think he doesn’t seem to mind hunting for a head or two if it means taking a player out of the game.

The worst part about this is that neither play drew a flag from the officials. You can forgive the referees for missing the first hit, but a second helmet-to-helmet hit in the same game by the same player didn’t draw a flag? That is precisely the biggest issue with this violent play – there is no consistency. Every helmet-to-helmet hit needs to, at the very least, be a substantial penalty. The additional fear of a suspension also needs to loom in the minds of every player looking to take a guy out of the game.

You can try and make the excuse that football is by nature a violent game. That’s not something I’m disputing. The problem is that textbook tackling has been replaced by the big play, jarring hits that aim to either knock the ball loose or the opposing player out of the game.

Harrison certainly deserves a hefty fine, despite the fact that he thinks it would be a “travesty.” The travesty is that it’s taken the league this long to consider doling out suspensions for these types of hits.

Topics: Helmet To Helmet, Injured, James Harrison, Josh Cribbs, Mohamed Massaquoi, Pittsburgh Steelers

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  • Donald J Quioxte

    Sour Grapes Steve, y’all go smacked. It sounds like you’re more suited to be watching badminton or maybe knitting yourself a nice quilt to keep your tootsies warm. You are most certainly not a true fan of the game of football.

    • http://yahoo ron

      your right their Don let’s let the players figure it all out on the field. The steelers have to still come to cleveland later this year. We will see if the Browns will sac up as a team an deal with the situation and maybe some well desreved repubution on say No.92 and maybe even No.86

  • Vangini

    Me thinks the real question is do the Cleveland Browns deserve a fine, suspension and/or outright league banishment for their continually and perpetually pathetic portrayal of a pro football franchise?

  • ed

    A defender once committed to making a hit cannot right himself because the receiver has bent over trying to retain his balance. Had the receiver stayed upright the hit would have been to the chest and no one would be talking about it today. Recipients many times have as much to do with the hit as the hitters!

    • Ralph

      Indeed. Also helmet to helmet hits are only penalties against a defenseless receiver (or the paperdoll QBs). Cribbs was a runner when he took his hit. And once the receiver hits the ground they cease to be a receiver and become a runner. When a runner lowers their head there is little the tackler can do to not hit it.

  • MenOfSteele

    You bet your ass Pittsburgh defenders are trying to knock the ball loose. They better be. If you clowns don’t like the hard hits we see in football, hike up your little mini skirt and go ballroom dancing. And FYI, the NFL ruled the hits by Harrison were LEGAL.

    Panzy QB’s like that idiot Steve Young, who was flapping his jaw like a little b!tch Monday night, are perfect examples. They just want a long distance throwing competition. If so, pack up your FOOTBALL, and play track and field, or some other NON-CONTACT sport. Leave football to the men, ladies.

  • Matt

    You know, not all helmet-to-helmet hits are illegal in football. Not just that, but why flag every one? In this case, what’s-his-face wouldn’t have made contact with Harrison’s helmet if he didn’t bend down while going towards him. Harrison was lined up for a lower shot, but in the receiver’s efforts to reel in the ball he was bobbling, he bent down and put his head in the line of fire. Why should a defender be penalized for something they couldn’t help?

  • AL

    The NFL has really went to far with these rules. Football is an contact sport, not an non contact sport. Ask anyone that has been under helemt how the game is played an you will get an true picture of the aggressive nature of the game. 4 and 1, I’m going to try my best to knock the ball carrier out. Helemt to pads, helemt to chest, and any where else I can put it to stop his foward motion. this is going to give the recievers an unfair advatage and pass inference is going to be the penatalty of choice more and more.

  • Mark

    FLAG Football anyone?? Harrison hit him with forearms. WHy are they fining these hits. Its football people. My god. Go bowling then

  • Mark

    I understand if you leave your feet and missle towards the receiver but come on. SOme of these hits are football. Geeze thats why they make the big money. Want to play touch????? WTF??

  • Bernie Dawkins

    Harrison should’ve been hit with a 1 game suspension based on his previous track record and stupid comments.

    The 75 K fine was definitely warranted for his hit on Massaquoi and his shot on Cribbs was even dirtier. Cribbs was already being brought down by Woodley when Harrison clearly led with his helmet and landed a shot to the side of his head, which is just dangerous.

    All you Steelers fans can talk all this nature of the game, tough guy bullshit, but there’s a human element that should come in to play at some point even for the idiots. These guys aren’t just football players; they’re husbands, fathers, sons, etc.

    Besides, none of you would even be able to walk after catching one on the side of the head like that. So get back to reality.

    The good (and bad) thing about all this is what goes around comes around in the NFL. Violent, dangerous hits like Harrison’s happen pretty much every week and it’s only a matter of time before it’s a guy in Black and Gold laying on the field after a helmet to helmet collision.

    If you guys are anything close to the all too many Steelers fans I know, I’m pretty sure you’ll be singing a different tune then.

  • Smoking Tire

    Harrison is being singled out because he is a great player on a great team. If somebody on the Browns got lucky and accidentally tackled someone while making slight contact with someone’s helmet, you wouldn’t hear anything about it because nobody cares about the Browns or knows the name of anyone on their entire D.

    Author of this article, don’t switch Harrison’s words around. He does not try to injure players. He tries to make them think twice about catching a football over the middle. He tries to shake a guy up with a tough hit. That’s what he meant by “hurt.” Hurt and injure are two different things in the context that he used the words.

    I think there are few guys in the NFL who intentionally try to end careers or cause serious harm. Don’t be an idiot. I know that’s hard for you though since you are a Brown’s fan.

  • Steve DiMatteo

    Look, I’m not saying these rules are perfect and yeah, I understand that this is a violent game, but it was never a game intended to be as life-altering as what constant head injuries can do to a person. Great defense in the NFL isn’t about “jacking someone up”, though that is now the trend in the league and in the minds of fans. Great defense involves textbook tackling. You want to talk about knocking the ball loose, but what achieves that better than a good tackling that hits a guy in the midsection, where the ball is?

    I’m not just singling out James Harrison here. The same would go for T.J. Ward. I think guys would get the message if there was a consistent method of administering penalties on these types of plays. Ward was penalized, yet Harrison was not for two head-injuring hits. It is up to the officials to get this right, more so than the league.

  • Steven McCrae

    Please try to get the somebody to explain to Roger Goodell how to run a business. The problem this week is that the NFL front office wants to be viewed as the Czar and savior of all that is good in football. Each week, when the front office reviews film and finds problems they need to address the officials behind closed doors. If penalties are not being called, then either the officials are negligent or they have not been properly instructed. You can argue if Harrison should have been flagged, but the NFL front office should NEVER sanction a player unless a flag has been thrown. This grandstanding is undermining the authority of the officials on the field. Both the officials and the players are confused, and the fans are angry on both sides of the issue. The NFL front office is causing this problem and making the entire NFL look silly. Roger Goodell is the problem here. He needs to quit grandstanding and recognize his chain of command . We should hear from the NFL front office about as often as we hear from the Rooney’s. Weather you love or hate the Steelers, they run a successful organization. Hire good people and let them do their jobs.

    Steven C. McCrae

  • KempSteel

    You MUST be a Brown’s fan because you called the former Defensive Player of the Year “Dirty.” You don’t qualify to make such judgments. The hit was illegal, sure. The fine is excessive in comparison to other hits delivered that same weekend. If James Harrison hit YOU that hard, you would NEVER get up again. These players are beyond grotesque genetic freaks. They can take more abuse than the common man. Hitting is what they do. If Commish GoodieGoodie wants to stop the hits, then they might as well start playing soccer.

    Browns fans are the biggest crybabies associated with ANY sports franchise. That’s why Modell left Cleveland.

    Hitting is a big part of the game. When rivals square-off, hits intensify. I loved seeing Cribbs KO’d. He wasn’t permanently maimed (although one could argue his career was maimed when he signed with the Browns).