James Harrison's Suspension Upheld: How Will It Affect the Pittsburgh Steelers?

Brendan O'HareContributor IDecember 17, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 8:   James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackles  Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns during the game on December 8, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Steelers won 14-3.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

To no one’s surprise, James Harrison’s appeal to have his one-game suspension eradicated was a great failure.

According to the Associated Press, "the NFL cited Harrison's history of flagrant hits—this was his fifth on a quarterback—in making him the first player suspended under stricter guidelines for player safety that were invoked midway through last season.”

I am a Steelers fan and I believe that Harrison has been unfairly targeted as the poster child for all that is wrong with the NFL. (He’s been causing those former players to live sad, miserable lives, right?)

There have been incidents in Harrison’s past—like this hit on Drew Brees—that weren't what the NFL turned them into. But this time it was a personal safety decision.

Maybe Harrison doesn't think what he did was improper (and definitely probably doesn't) but this was the right choice by the NFL.

He blatantly hit Colt McCoy in the head, causing McCoy to sustain concussion-like symptoms (although he was never taken out of the game, which Cleveland should really be penalized for, but…). The hit to the head shouldn't be tolerated—and wasn't.

Harrison will miss arguably the Steelers’ biggest regular season game Monday night against the 49ers. His absence could "cost the Steelers a chance at winning the AFC North title, a home playoff game and a first-round bye,” as ESPN’s Jamison Hensley notes.  

Harrison has played extremely well this season and would have been huge in a game that is sure to be a defensive struggle.

Will Harrison change? Probably not.

It’s nice to have guys play hard—but he needs more restraint. He knows the NFL is coming after him, so why would he do something like that? It’s called playing the game, and I’m not sure Harrison has learned how to do that yet.