Attention James Harrison: Shut Up and Play Football
There have been plenty of publicized responses to the NFL's new suspension policy on what they call "devastating hits and head shots". However, one in particular caught my attention. It came from one of the worst offenders last weekend, Pittsburgh Steelers' linebacker James Harrison.
Harrison was excused from practice Wednesday because he was apparently too upset with the new policy. He said that this new policy puts restrictions on the way he was taught to play the game.
Now, one of the NFL's best linebackers is pondering retirement.
First of all, Harrison's objections to whether his hits on Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi warranted his $75,000 fine is ludicrous. The hits were not only fine-able, but due to the fact that there were multiple infractions, a suspension was possible.
Harrison, along with many others, claims that this change in policy goes against everything he has been taught as a football player. Before I dive into how wrong that is, let's examine that word for a moment: policy.
This is purely a change in policy, not rules. The rules are the same: don't lead with your head, don't hit the other guy in the head, don't hit after the play and don't hit a player from behind, who is not in the vicinity of the football. Those rules are all the same. Previously, a first time offender would receive a fine and now they are subject to suspension.
So, if you're a football player, what's the difference?
These guys were fine with the rules and chose to ignore them, in some cases, because all they would receive was a fine. Now that players are subject to suspension, players, both current and former, are in an uproar.
It has never been okay to head-hunt and leading with the head is just begging for an injury. At the high impact that these players get hit, a blow either to the head or a hit leading with the head, could result in something tragic.
One player who has actually come out looking like a good guy through all of this is Brandon Meriweather. Meriweather delivered the scariest looking hit of the weekend, when he ran in and popped Todd Heap on the top of his head, well after the ball was out of play.
Brandon didn't sulk or moan or complain. He accepted his fine and apologized for the perceived malice behind the hit.
Brandon Meriweather is acting like a man. James Harrison is not.
James, your hit on Cribbs was bad, the one on Massaquoi was worse, and you're the victim? You're thinking about walking away from the game you love because they won't let you spear people? In the words of ESPN's Monday Night Football crew, c'mon man!
Lead with the shoulder and hit a guy in the chest. It's not that hard to do. You can still deliver big hits that make fans jump out of their seats, but trying to decapitate wide receivers is not an option.
Pick yourself up, hit the practice field and bring it all on Sunday. Otherwise, you can sulk and whine. Remember though, if the latter happens and you do actually retire (which seems highly unlikely), then you're just like everybody else. I'd like to see what kind of 9-5 Harrison would end up with, perhaps something in customer service.
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