When James Harrison talks, people listen. And when people are listening to James Harrison talk, they’re usually left wondering why he began talking.
There’s a fine line to walk when writing about Harrison’s periodic public rantings. On one hand, we’re obligated to highlight his latest antics because whenever any player publicly rips the commissioner, it’s simply a notable and newsworthy item. On the other, there’s the hope that like the child pouting because he’s been denied ice cream, Harrison will just go away if we ignore him. After all, this definitely isn’t the first time Harrison has said something brash and damning. It’s not even the first time this offseason.
We highlighted Harrison’s latest comments towards Roger Goodell in which the Steelers linebacker said he wouldn’t piss on Goodell if he was on fire in this morning’s links. But he didn’t stop there while speaking to the Men’s Journal. Several other targets were evidently fair game, including Pittsburgh’s quarterback.
Harrison was highly critical of Ben Roethlisberger and his play during the Steelers’ loss to Green Bay in this year’s Super Bowl.
“Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again. Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Payton Manning. You ain’t that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does.”
He also said that Texans linebacker Brian Cushing–who was suspended for the first four games of last season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy–is “juiced out of his mind.”
Harrison then turned his attention to an old wound from 2004 that hasn’t healed yet.
“I should have another ring. We were the best team in football in 2004, but the Patriots, who we beat during the regular season, stole our signals and picked up 90 percent of our blitzes [in the AFC title game]. They got busted for it later, but, hey, they’re Goodell’s boys, so he slapped ‘em $500,000 and burned the tapes. Was he going to rescind their Super Bowls? Man, hell no!”
What remains alarming about Harrison is his willingness to say things that he knows will look awful in black-and-white. It’s clear that he’s not that intelligent when it comes to the art of public perception, but I refuse to believe that a 33-year-old man is completely unaware that continually threatening the commissioner will only put him deeper into the role of the league’s villain.
Harrison’s insistence that his hits aren’t dirty remains ridiculous, and if he truly believes that he’s being unfairly targeted by Goodell, then calling him a “dictator” and a “devil” isn’t helping that cause. What’s worse if that even if Harrison’s reputation around the league has eroded he still has the support of his teammates, but now that could potentially be damaged after his public criticism of the Steelers’ offensive leader.
He’s just not that smart, and that’s not about to change any time soon.
UPDATE: Since it seems every post today needs one of these add-ons with the important looking “update” tag bolded and in all-caps, here’s another one.
Steelers president Art Rooney II issued a public statement essentially saying that Harrison will be called into the principal’s office once the lockout is over and coaches/team executives are allowed to have contact with players.
“I have not yet seen the article in Men’s Journal nor have I spoken to James Harrison about his comments. We will discuss the situation at the appropriate time, when permitted once the labor situation is resolved.”
Meanwhile, Harrison also attacked running back Rashard Mendenhall for his brief bout with fumblitis during the playoffs, calling him a “fumbling machine.”
If that’s the case, then Mendenhall is the most poorly designed fumbling machine ever made. Mendenhall’s fumbles may have been ill-timed–he had two in the playoffs, one of which was a tide-turning turnover in the Super Bowl–but he’s hardly made a habit of fumbling. Over a three-year career and his 585 rushing attempts, Mendenhall has had only six fumbles resulting in a loss of possession.
On his Twitter account Mendenhall said there are no hard feelings, but he also linked to this year’s regular season rushing stats which show that he ranked fourth in carries with 324 (only 12 behind first place Michael Turner), and still only put the ball on the ground twice during the first 16 weeks of 2010.