October 20, 2010
One day after getting fined $75,000 for an illegal hit, James Harrison(notes) is threatening to quit football because he says he doesn't know if he'll be able to adjust his game to new NFL rules. The Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker was excused from practice on Wednesday.
His agent, Bill Parise, told Adam Schefter of ESPN:
"We wouldn't joke about this. [...] This is a very serious issue. James is very concerned about how to play football. If James is going to be fined $75,000 for making a legal tackle, then how do you go play football? It's quite frustrating to James, to coach [Mike] Tomlin, to me, to everybody."
[Photos: See images of Harrison's hit]
Brandon Meriweather(notes) of the New England Patriots gets it. He was fined $50,000 this week for an illegal hit and took the exact opposite tack of Harrison, apologizing for his actions and vowing to play within the rules.
Harrison seems to be trying to lead a revolution against the new, misguided rules about tackling. The only problem is, his hits were always illegal and punishable by fine. The linebacker would have been sanctioned even if the league hadn't instituted new rules about illegal hits.
[Rewind: Another football player's threat to quit]
In 1993, Chuck Cecil was fined $37,500 for taking the same exact cheap shot that Harrison did on Sunday. (Considering inflation of player's salaries, that was a far greater fine than the one Harrison, who makes $13 million this year, received.) What beef does Harrison have? The Dunta Robinsons of the world can complain. James Harrison's type of play hasn't been allowed since the days of Deacon Jones.
Who exactly is Harrison threatening anyway? You think Roger Goodell cares if Harrison leaves the league? Of all sports, the NFL is the one least dependent on stars. (It's a stretch to even call Harrison that.) Players come and go every year. Nobody outside of Pittsburgh is going to bat an eyelid if James Harrison suddenly stops playing.
Harrison is the only one who doesn't understand this. "I'm going to sit down and have a serious conversation with my coach and see if I can actually play by NFL rules and still be effective," he said. "If not, I may have to give up playing football."
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
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