The news broke today that the NFL has decided to ban Pittsburgh Steelers defensive player James Harrison for one game. That is not enough. James Harrison has worn out his welcome and needs to be banned from the NFL for at least a year.
No one will question that football is a physical game, and that injuries and hard hits are simply a part of that game. The NFL is football on it's biggest and most physical stage and, by extension, is where all of the biggest hits will occur.
James Harrison is one of the toughest players in the game right now, and maybe ever to play. His inspired, physical play helps keep the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoff hunt year after year, despite the constant pressure from injuries and a difficult schedule.
Despite his positive contributions to his team, Harrison has shown time and again that he is not willing to conform to NFL rules, nor does he view what he is doing as wrong. It's not that he is incapable of change, he certainly is. However, Harrison has shown that his own safety, and the safety of other players, are secondary to the big hits and the brash talk.
Harrison remains adamant about his innocence, insisting in a previous report that he did nothing wrong with his hit Sunday on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, even though he clearly led with his helmet straight into the facemask of McCoy, who at that point had thrown the ball. That type of hit was totally unjustified and could have resulted in serious injury, but as usual, Harrison sees nothing wrong with it.
Harrison has been fined multiple times over the past three seasons for similar incidents and his comments on Monday show that there is little chance of him being more careful, even at the expense of losing games and possibly hurting his team's playoff seeding.
It may be as simple as a pride issue or an anger issue, but the end result is that James Harrison is a very dangerous player. A good one, but a dangerous one. The NFL needs to act before someone is seriously hurt, not after, and be clear on the issue by giving him at least a one year ban from professional football. Maybe then he'll get the message.