It is the offseason so it must mean that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the news for all of the wrong reasons.
After two consecutive summers of Ben Roethlisberger getting bad press, the Steelers stepped up their game this offseason.
Now James Harrison has joined the party.
Harrison, never afraid to speak his mind, held nothing back in an interview with Men’s Journal.
In the interview, Harrison unleashed on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“My rep is James Harrison, mean son of a bitch who loves hitting the hell out of people,” he says. “But up until last year, there was no word of me being dirty — till Roger Goodell, who’s a crook and a puppet, said I was the dirtiest player in the league. If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn’t do it. I hate him and will never respect him.”
He also had some comments on why he should have another championship.
“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!”
Harrison had some unkind words for one particular teammate as well, Ben Roethlisberger.
“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 Peyton Manning. You ain’t that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does.”
Unlike Roethlisberger, Harrison made it clear he has nothing but respect for fellow defender Troy Polamalu.
“He’s the one guy in football I respect absolutely, ‘cause he’s spiritual and lives it like he talks it. You know, he gets more flags than anyone on our team but never gets fined for nothin’. He’s so polite and talks so softly that he could tell he could tell Goodell to kiss his ass, and Goodell would smile and say thank you.”
Harrison certainly has created a storm with these comments and Goodell has to be fuming sitting in his office. Art Rooney II has to equally be enraged.
Following his fines last year, Harrison made it clear that he was displeased with Goodell and even threatened retirement.
But to go in a publication and to spout off at the commissioner may not have been the best decision, regardless of how many other players, coaches and fans agree with his comments.
Harrison is right in saying that he was considered to be one of the best defensive players until he was made out to be the poster boy for illegal hits last season. Goodell deserves some wrath from Harrison.
Calling him “a crook and a puppet” shares the sentiments of many and saying that he will “never respect him” is fine. Goodell, at times, has alienated football fans and has appeared as a weak commissioner.
Harrison’s assessment of the 2005 AFC Championship game against the Patriots was spot on. More than one member of the Steelers has commented that the Patriots knew the plays during the game.
The Patriots’ cheating has been well-documented and Goodell getting rid of the tapes was a joke as was the light slap on the wrist that the organization got – see the “a crook and a puppet” comment again.
However, some of the comments made by Harrison were way out of line.
The comments on Roethlisberger were completely unnecessary and not appropriate. These are the types of comments that you keep behind closed doors.
What exactly does it achieve throwing your franchise quarterback under the bus and undermining his talent well after the Super Bowl?
Did he criticize Chris Kemoeatu for missing the block that helped force Roethlisberger into throwing one of those interceptions? Not quite.
Roethlisberger’s value to the Steelers is clear and they would not have won two Super Bowls and been to one other without him. Harrison needs to remember that Roethlisberger was under center when the Steelers were “the best team in football in 2004.”
To Harrison’s credit, his comments on Polamalu were spot on and amusing. There are few better people in football.
Polamalu’s quiet style outside of football is unbelievable considering his play on the field. He has had some “dirty” moments of is own, but as Harrison said, “He’s so polite.”
Now with these comments public, it will be interesting to see if Harrison will get a phone call from Goodell’s office or a visit with Rooney once the lockout ends.
As for a plea for the rest of the Steelers roster: Please stay out of the news and think before you speak.
We need to get back to football.
The article “James Harrison: Confessions of an NFL Hitman” can be read at Men’s Journal.
Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisG_FC