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Whining and Crying

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James Harrison and Steelers fans are way off target with their complaints about his fine for hitting Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.

James Harrison, the city of Pittsburgh is behind you.

Within hours of the NFL's decision to fine the Steelers All-Pro for his hit on Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, internet message boards, Facebook pages and radio call-in shows were overwhelmed with angry Steelers fans, outraged over the fact that Harrison was being punished for breaking a rule.

Harrison was so offended and confused by his fine (less than one percent of his annual income, by the way) that he's threatening to retire from the game of football.

Never mind that he is paid by the Steelers to play on Sundays.

Never mind that his teammates just got through the Ben Roethlisberger Soap Opera and don't need one of their top defensive players pouting instead of playing.

Things didn't go James' way, so he wants to quit. And the Steeler Nation is OK with it.

Am I missing something? I haven't heard this much whining from Pittsburgh since a skinny Barry Bonds failed to throw out Sid Bream nearly two decades ago. Have some respect for yourselves, Steelers fans, you sound like French soccer fanatics.

This is not a new rule.

Harrison clearly led with his head. He clearly violated a long-standing NFL rule against helmet-to-helmet hits.

In fact, Harrison probably got cut some slack on his earlier blow to the noggin of Cleveland's Josh Cribbs. He led with his head on that play as well, but the NFL office did their job properly and ruled that particular helmet-to-helmet contact to be unintentional and incidental. So Harrison was not punished.

That was not the case with his thumping of Massaquoi later in the game.

He broke a rule; he was dealt his punishment. Welcome to the world.

Fining Harrison--along with two other players who committed similar violations--does not make the NFL soft. It does not take any of the physicality out of football. It's not being done to change the game.

It's simply enforcing a rule that needs to be enforced.

If anyone honestly thinks that the NFL is making their sport "soft" with these fines then I have to seriously question how much football these people watch. The NFL is over-the-top in its brutality, something I never truly understood until I began talking to current and former players, and spending time in locker rooms after games and practices.

The men who play this game are modern-day mercenaries, plain and simple. They are paid ridiculously large sums of money to exist in a violent world, and the only way to do so is to give back exactly what you get; the only way to be great is to give MORE than you get. That won't change anytime soon.

The idea that a stricter enforcement of their current rules somehow makes this savagely violent sport "soft" is, in a word, absurd.

Is the NFL talking out of both sides of its mouth when it fines Harrison and others, yet sells DVDs full of similarly vicious hits? Is the league greedy and hypocritical by preaching player safety one day yet ramrodding an 18-game schedule down these same players' throats the next?

Of course it is. That's not even up for debate.

But it's also not the point here.

The point here is that Harrison--and Steelers fans--are embarrassing themselves.

In Harrison's case, it's not a surprise. He's long been surly and miserable; rude and thuggish. It was just two-and-a-half years ago that Harrison admitted hitting his girlfriend during an argument, and not quite that long ago that he caused a stir because he couldn't be bothered to join his teammates at the White House after the Steelers won Super 43.

Yet the Black and Gold is behind him in this one, offering to band together to pay his fines because he's somehow seen as a victim.

For goodness sake, Pittsburgh, listen to yourselves!

You sound like Cleveland after the Cavs did absolutely nothing to convince LeBron James to stay, then acted stunned and offended when he left. You sound like Seattle after losing a Super Bowl in which the Seahawks failed to make a single significant play, and then blamed referees for the loss.

You sound like James Harrison threatening to quit merely because he was held responsible for clearly violating a long-standing rule.

The NFL simply did what Harrison's girlfriend did not do. They hit back.


1. Have you happened to notice the scores of today's games and how many more points were scored by ineffective offenses? i.e. Browns, Bills, etc.
2. I wonder just what will happen when the sports bookies get involved. With the Browns winning and the Bills taking the Ravens into overtime, it must have made the bookies quite nervous.
3. I think the new way of interpreting "illegal" plays will cause many more upsets than in the past, simply because defenses will be overly-cautious.
4. NPR had Adam Talifero on this morning. He suffered a severe spinal cord injury in 2000 and was unable to walk for five months. He pointed out that the recent injury to the DT from Rutgers and his own injury were the result of aggressive hits by the injured players, namely the DT and Adam.
5. I noticed on the Ravens game that a Bills receiver was "horse-collared", but no penalty was called. I thought tackles above the neck were illegal. I also noticed that the play where the receiver "fumbled" was the result of a "defenseless" player, whose forward progress was halted, being held up by several defenders, and being hit by other defensive players. I thought the intent of the new interpretations of the rules were meant to protect the defenseless player. In both of the above, the ball carriers were "defenseless" and penalties should have been called. The referees did not do so, and the outcome of the game was changed.


Fan11 and Ruddy - you guys are knuckleheads.....

First - I must say that I AM a Steelers fan and the hit itself doesnt bother me all that much. Its the whining and crying by both Harrison and the fans that is nauseating. He did the crime, now do the time. Harrison now questions how to play the game..... come on now, James. You don't need to knock someones head off every time you make a tackle. Apparently they didnt teach you how to tackle while playing youth, HS and college ball???

Fan11 - in one breath you say that the writer shouldn't bring Harrison's personal life into it (in your words, this was a "low blow"), THEN you call the writer a "waste of life reporter" - how about this - YOU are a hypocrite. How do you know that the writer is a "waste of life"? Do you know him? Do you know ANYTHING about him? You complain about him writing on emotion, yet I dont see him taking personal attacks at you.... Here, how about this - now I am going to write based on emotion - YOU are a moron and possibly a waste of life...... How's it feel?

Harrison's admission of hitting the girl was being used as an example of his behavior recently - behavior that matches his recent pouting about being fined. As a good friend of mine says - WHAAAA-EFFIN-WHAAAAAAAA...... Get over it. It wasnt brought up as a low blow, but apparently the reading comprehension portion of the SATs was like Chinese to you.....

Also - what "research" is the Ed missing here???? Are you saying that what is being discussed isnt true? I dont understand? I dont see him stooping to any level - just using a factually correct event to support an opinion on Harrison's behavior.

Ruddy - pretty much the same as above, however, I believe you did fairly well on the reading comprehension portion of the SATs. However:

1. This much is clear - you are offended by being called a whiner. Oh well - get over it. The fact is that Harrison and his vocal supporters DO sound like a bunch of whiners. I dont think the Ed here is whining - its more of an overall disgust, maybe?

2. Really? You REALLY dont see that hit as clearly illegal? HE LED WITH HIS HEAD...... Sheesh - its not that difficult to see. There are many better ways to make this tackle. I dont get all of this support. Yes - football is rough and should be played hard and injuries happen - I get all of that. But there are also RULES that need to be followed, and this is one of them. I hate all of the rules to protect the QB, but I'll be d*%$ed if I piss and moan when a guy on a team I am rooting for violates the rule and gets flagged.

3. I actually agree here. I have no idea why. Maybe there were fines in the past that played a part in the amount here?

4. It doesnt matter that he admitted he was wrong - HE HIT HER. And as mentioned above, I dont read this part of the article to be a personal attack on JH - it was a FACT that was raised to support an opinion/observation that JH is thuggish, miserable, surly and rude.



I feel that you should not inclue harrison's personal life on what happened with his girlfriend. That is such a low blow. Yeah. you can talk about how dumb it is for him wanting to quit...but honestly...bringing that into your report...that is just wrong. You're just a waste of life reporter who wants to make his story look better by making harrison look like a bad guy. Maybe if you had done more research and not just complain yourself on how pittsburgh supports their players No Matter What....you wouldn't have to stoop to that level....


I disagree with a number of items in this op-ed. To begin with, it is written from just as emotional a standpoint as the fans who are sticking up for Harrison. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Exercising your right to an opinion is not whining. Countering your opposition calling them whiners is essentially a deliberate attempt to antagonize and it weakens your point overall.

2. Harrison did not *clearly* violate the helmet to helmet rule on the Massaquoi play. Massaquoi dropped his head and shoulder heading towards Harrison, whose helmet went to the side of Massaquoi's helmet as he extended his arms and maintained line of sight as he delivered an extremely hard hit that knocked the ball loose, a ball that had been in the receiver's hands long enough for him to turn back up the field of play. Where is the criticism towards the QB for throwing to him and setting him up for that hit? Crossing routes are known for this risk.

3. The fine...Why is the Harrison fine more than the Meriweather fine? Meriweather was flagged on the spot for launching himself upward into the bottom jaw of the receiver who no longer had possession of the ball. If the argument includes the hit on Cribbs then the NFL should include and address that, not make Harrison the patsy, to the tune of 25K more than any other player, for a rough weekend.

4. Now onto your personal attack on Harrison's character. Make sure you read all the details about the domestic abuse case involving his girlfriend. You will find that not only did he admit that he was wrong, but he called Dan Rooney to discuss the matter and paid his due for what he had done.

Make sure you read up on the history of who James Harrison is, how he grew up, how hard he has worked to become a vital member of the Steeler defense (after being cut three times, getting his CDL and working as a bus driver before getting a chance to play). I do not know the man personally but I would be willing to bet that this is not a matter of money or a matter of being "thuggish", it is a matter of calling the NFL front office out on their hypocrisy.

It's fair to question the fairness of the hits, the amount of the fine and completely fair to question the reaction of James Harrison and our fans. It's unfair to dismiss the players and people who side with Harrison, Coach Tomlin and Joshua Cribbs (who said Harrison was just doing his job) as whiners, attack Harrison's work ethic and condescendingly posture yourself as right. The only thing is *clear* is that there are different opinions on this matter. Otherwise, you would not have written your article and I would not have written this response.

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