COVID-19 is radically transforming our world. Not even the NFL is immune. Yet, Coronavirus can’t touch James Harrison’s status as the “gift that keeps on giving” to Pittsburgh Steelers bloggers.
Seriously. Just when you think there’s nothing left to add James Harrison’s story, a new chapter emerges. No disrespect to Antonio Brown, but James Harrison out does him when it comes to controversy. Heck, Harrison might give Terry Bradshaw a run for his money at this rate.
Football news has been slow during the pandemic, but Steelers Nation can count on James Harrison to speed it up. And that’s actually a real shame. For James Harrison.
He reaffirmed his love for Dick LeBeau. He contrasted how players partied heavily the Bill Cowher era as compared to the atmosphere on Mike Tomlin’s watch. He left no doubt that Kevin Colbert stood shoulder to shoulder with him in 2010 when Roger Goodell unfairly scapegoated him for hits to the head. He shed light on a previously unreported clash with Bruce Arians that started when he bumped into Ben Roethlisberger.
Our knowledge about the inner workings of the Steelers of the 00’s and the ‘10’s is richer for Harrison’s chat with Colon. Then, after referencing his $75,000 fine Roger Goodell slapped on him for his legal hit of Mohamed Massaquoi he dropped this bomb:
And I ain’t gonna lie to you, when that happened, right? the G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that. I ain’t gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.
Of course James Harrison was implying that Mike Tomlin was paying the fine for him. Harrison knew what he was doing would set off a firestorm. That was his intention all along.
And that’s the problem.
James Harrison Needs to Get Over Himself
Reaction has been swift to Harrison’s bomb. Art Rooney II issued an unequivocal denial. Harrison’s agent Bill Parise declared that the exchange “Never Happened.” Harrison himself partially walked back comments, clarifying that Mike Tomlin never paid him to hurt anyone.
- This came after Sean Peyton suggested the Steelers should face some sort of Bountygate investigation similar to what he was subjected to.
Hum. It seems like Harrison is confronting the law of unintended consequences, doesn’t it? He wanted to poke his former coach. He wanted to make some mischief? But get him and the organization into real trouble? Not so much.
Two years into his definitive retirement from the NFL, three things are clear about James Harrison:
- He has a knack for creating controversy
- He knows it.
- He still holds a grudge against Mike Tomlin.
The end between Harrison and the Steelers was a train wreck. As Art Rooney II immediately confessed, there was blame to go around. But Harrison’s situation was hardly unique. Both Franco Harris and Rod Woodson left Pittsburgh with bruised egos and hard feelings.
- But both men moved on and ultimately reconciled with their first NFL franchise.
Whether James Harrison reconciles with the Steelers is his choice. Regardless, he would do well follow Rod Woodson’s lead. Even when blood was bad in the ‘90’s, Woodson never resorted to taking petty potshots of the kind at Harrison is taking. (Even if Woodson was on the receiving end of some of those from Tom Donahoe.)
James Harrison again insisted to Colon that he’d been promised more playing time and made no bones about mailing it in once when he didn’t get it. Even promises were made, Harrison must take responsibility for his own actions.
Yes, Harrison could still contribute in 2017. But rookie T.J. Watt was better than Harrison. Faking injuries, sleeping through meetings or going home when deactivated is no way to prove you deserve to play.
- As the late Myron Cope argued, the Pittsburgh Steelers yield nothing to the rest of the NFL when it comes to its linebacking legacy.
But how James Harrison transformed himself from a practice squad bubble baby into a an NFL Defensive Player of the Year who made game a changing play in Super Bowl XLIII was always part of his mystique.
Now he’s tarnishing that mystique. James Harrison needs to get over himself and see just how petty his one-sided feud with Mike Tomlin has become.