Not Breaking News: Steelers’ Harrison Doesn’t Understand the Rules

“From what I understand, once the quarterback leaves the pocket, he’s considered a runner,” Harrison said. “All the defenseless(ness) and liberties that a quarterback has in the pocket are gone and you can tackle him just as he’s a running back. The hit wasn’t late, so I really don’t understand why it was called.” -James Harrison

Um, because you tried to put the crown of your helmet through McCoy’s jaw. That’s why.

How that isn’t clear after last year’s game against Cleveland is a mystery. You know, the game in which he knocked Massaquoi out of the game with a concussion on a helmet to helmet hit. One in which he was fined $75,000.

But here’s what really gets me- for as much as the Steelers are a premiere organization in just about every way, instead of getting Harrison to understand the rule and abide by it, they simply cry foul and imply that the refs in some way have it out for them.

Yahoo’s Chris Chase has it nailed in his analysis here

We’ve defended players getting flagged for dirty hits on this site a number of times. Sometimes it’s impossible for a defender to change his trajectory or angle to avoid hitting a player coming at him at full speed. This wasn’t one of those circumstances. Harrison waited, launched and rose to make his tackle. He had plenty of time to wait, lean and dip. It would have accomplished the same thing.

Harrison has to play his position, you can’t begrudge him that. The threat of his hits are what’s supposed to keep quarterbacks from moving up in the pocket and getting first downs with their legs. He can’t do that by using his helmet as a weapon.

And here-

If James Harrison hasn’t stopped headhunting by now, it’s never going to happen. All those fines, the ones that will supposedly keep him from paying college tuition for his kids, haven’t worked. So maybe the NFL should try to get its message across to Harrison more clearly. Suspend him. The league did it for an angry stomp. Shouldn’t repeated illegal hits earn the same sanction?

If the Steelers are going to try and protect their player by speaking out against the penalties, shouldn’t the Browns protect their players by asking the league for a suspension?

  • stin4u

    Cue the Steeler trolls “Yins are just mad coz we won again!”. I’d love for this team to show some passion and retaliate for garbage like this. I’m sick of watching this team help these turds up and tap hands with Steeler players.

  • Lyon

    the Browns should protect their player by whooping Harrison’s Arse when he does stuff like this.

    No doubt he should be suspended. you can’t keep doing this and not be punished. And $50k isn’t a punishment to multimillionaires. that’s like fining me $5

  • Max

    I hope one day soon James Harrison is standing on a corner in the rain when a truck drives by and douses him with a 8 foot wall of water. I hope it is cold enough outside (like 36, when its that freezing , icy rain) that his shoelaces and zippers are frozen by the time he gets inside anywhere. I then hope he gets pneumonia, and develops a cough so bad he herniates a disc one day while hacking up a lung. I hope that herniated disc prevents him from ever playing football again.

  • Kunal

    @Max Well said sir

  • NJ

    The guy doesn’t even try to wrap when he tackles. It was the same way with the Cribbs hit last year. He goes in with his arms at his side and uses his helmet as a weapon.

    I especially loved Tomlin’s response – “McCoy had just thrown the football so they called it helmet to helmet.” Huh? Talk about your non sequiturs.

    Call me a puss, but I have a really hard time watching this sort of thing. These types of plays (and knowing the very real fallout caused by concussions) make it hard for me to be a football fan.

  • Lyon

    I just don’t understand what’s so hard about doing a form tackle… I know there are times where the offensive player will move and the D can’t help but hit with helmet, but 90% of the time these can be avoided with form tackling.

  • Chris

    The Browns don’t understand the league rules either, because you’re not allowed to send players in when they have concussions.

  • MrCleaveland

    If QBs don’t want to get hit, (1) they shouldn’t scramble and/or (2) they should get rid of the ball sooner. Or (3) they should go play intramurals, brother.

  • MrCleaveland


    Chris, OUTSTANDING avatar!

  • Mike

    @ 8

    Maybe Harrison should learn how to tackle? I think they teach you to tackle with your shoulder and arms and drive. Not by crowning someones mouth with the top of your helmet.

  • BrownsFanBrad

    Just watched the video again and it was disappointing to see D’Qwell Jackson fraternizing with Harrison after the play.

  • NJ

    @7 – Absolutely. And if the NFL was serious, they’d fine Shurmur and the Browns for doing so.

    The problem with doing that is that it’d call into question the league’s policies on diagnosing concussions and that would reveal that the NFL still really doesn’t care about protecting it’s players.

  • Harv 21

    speaking of concussions, looks like Ben Watson has another. That plus his age, un-Patriot like lack of self-control with another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and some dropped passes makes me think there will now be wholesale changes at all offensive skill positions next year. Out with Hillis, Watson, Alex Smith (maybe MoMass and Cribbs too); in with Hardesty, Evan Moore, Jordan Cameron and a bunch of new wides.

  • NJ

    @8 – What does being a QB have to do with it? That hit on any player would still have been illegal. You cannot use your helmet as a weapon. You cannot go helmet to helmet. What is so hard about this?

  • BuckeyeDawg

    Hey Browns…want to stop this guy from concussing our players? Make sure that this guy gets taken off the field on a cart on New Year’s day after an “incidental” block below the waist…

    This is not that hard of a concept. You lead with the crown of your helmet and launch yourself into the head of another player with no effort to wrap with your arms, that is illegal. This is exactly what Harrison did. He could have stopped McCoy with one arm…or aimed 12 inches lower…instead he chose to go for the “kill shot”.

    Suspend this a-hole for the rest of the regular season, at least.

  • willson

    harrison is an embarrassment to the league. the fact that he refuses to play by the rules time and time again should force the league to suspend him. it won’t, for two reasons:
    1. harrison plays for the nfl’s pride and joy, pittsburgh. good old fashioned, hard nosed football, tough defense and good running pittsburgh. if harrison played for the lions? my guess is he would have already had 1 suspension, with a second on the way.

    2. this hit was on a lower tier player on a lower tier team. put this same hit on aaron rodgers or tom brady, and i would bet money that the chances of a suspension would be much more realistic.

  • stin4u

    @Harv – Is it terrible of me to say I’m totally ok with that? At this point I am alright with letting Hillis walk. Josh is the only one of that group I would like to hang on to for his special team ability, but even that is negated by the awful play in that area this year. I don’t think Hardesty is going to amount to anything so maybe they draft another RB in the later rounds this year.

  • MrCleaveland

    I agree that Harrison is a thug and a suspension of a game or two would be in order considering his past behavior. I just get a little frustrated at times because 21 guys on the field are playing tackle and one is playing touch.

  • stin4u

    @15 – The first part of your response is exactly what I am asking for. I feel like this team has zero pride, I’ve been on intramural teams that took more pride in protecting each other in flag football.

    If I were Shurmur my speech to this team would involve plenty of expletives and an accusation of being soft. Because you know what? They’re marshmallows.

  • Nrojb


    But seriously, how do you suspend a guy for a temper tantrum stomp that at worse causes a laceration/broken finger, but not a guy who is literally bashing people’s brains in??

  • Chris

    @17: In Cribbs’ defense, he was out earlier this season with a groin injury, and he went out during this game with the same. That leads me to believe he was never fully healed.

    Even if that’s not the case, I want him in the locker room anyway because he, more than any other player seems to “get” Cleveland.

  • Harv 21

    I’m ok with it too , Stin. Cleveland fans are so desperate to fall in love that we overrate Browns players like crazy. Hillis is big and strong but has put one solid season together and gets hurt a lot. Cribbs now contributes more in newspaper quotes than plays. Haden’s first name is apparently “future all pro,” except right now he’s very good, not elite.

  • Chris

    @9, Hey thank you, Mr. Cleveland. 🙂

  • Greg

    I’ll be curious to see if the Steelers put in any of their starters for the season finale (assuming their playoff position is secure). I’m not one of those payback/revenge people, but this has gone on long enough, and if the Browns decide to go ahead and start intentionally injuring the skill players on the Steelers (in order to mess up their chances in the playoffs), I can’t say I’d blame them.

  • BuckeyeDawg

    I’m with you, Greg. I’m not typically one to advocate trying to injure another player intentionally, but enough is enough. He either doesn’t get it, or is being obtuse. Either way, it’s unacceptable.

    It’s not like this was a one time, questionable hit. This is the third time this guy has gone headhunting against our players. If the NFL isn’t going to do anything about this guy, maybe it’s time for a little “street justice”, so to speak.

  • oribiasi

    @ Harv 21: Isn’t Joe Haden one of the reasons why we can’t criticize the entire organization (i.e., Heckert)?

  • Shamrock

    I’d take a team of Harrisons over what the Browns have I know that much at least. The guy with the biggest heart is Cribbs and after that it’s far and between.

    Haden is the best on the Browns defense that doesn’t mean he’s the best in the league.

  • Dee P

    @ 16 willson

    Dead on.

  • Steeler Fan here. I can’t defend Harrison on the McCoy hit. But you can legally hit a runner helmet to helmet. Go back and watch your goal line stand. Mendenhall had a couple of H2H slobberknockers put on him

  • Thomas

    I read some sections of the NFL rulebook. Harrison’s comment is correct. If a quaterback is a runner that tackle is fine. The problems is a quaterback in the process of throwing or who has just thrown the ball is considered a defensless player, therefore, the hit is illeagal.

    But, article 8 also says:

    (g) If a player uses any part of his helmet (including the top/crown and forehead/”hairline” parts) or facemask to butt, spear, or ram an opponent violently or unnecessarily.

    therefore, just don’t use your helmit.

  • SDA

    I guess my biggest issue is why not wrap a guy up and run him into the ground and knock the wind out of him. Harrison launches himself constantly. the browns on the other hand, lower their head and try and knock a guy down. its all through the NFL. I cant stand watching the Browns attempts at tackling anymore. They miss almost every first tackle because nobody wraps up. When I watch the games I’m amazed at how many first tackles or even help tackles a someone turning their head away as they dive at a guy and wiff. It drives me nuts.

  • Big Z


    If you guys have any insiders @ Berea please ask them to influence Tom Heckert into drafting Robert Griffin III. Thank you.

  • Big Z

    Also, in relation to this article I don’t think anyone mentioned the fact that Harrison launched himself at McCoy which is also a violation of the rules.

  • Big Z

    Nevermind, CTRL F’ed it.