Sean Payton: I'd Be 'Shocked' If NFL Investigates James Harrison's Tomlin Claim

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIMay 15, 2020

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, right, greets Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin as the teams warm up before an NFL football game, Sunday,Nov. 30, 2014 in Pittsburgh. ( Photo/Don Wright)
Don Wright/Associated Press

Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison told Willie Colon on Barstool Sports' Going Deep podcast that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin "handed me an envelope" after he was fined $75,000 for a hit on then-Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi in 2010.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton "would be shocked" if the NFL investigated Tomlin:

Luke Johnson @ByLukeJohnson

Payton was candid when asked for his thoughts on former Steelers LB James Harrison saying in a recent podcast appearance that Mike Tomlin handed him an envelope after a big hit on Mohamed Massaquoi in 2010. https://t.co/mlVQlenCLD

"Dude, I'm telling you...75?" Harrison told his former teammate earlier Thursday (h/t Sports Illustrated's Pete Smith). "And I ain't gonna lie to you, when that happened, right? The G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did—he handed me an envelope after that. I ain't gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that."

Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, told Joe Rutter of the Tribune-Review on Thursday that an exchange "never happened" and he "would have known" if Tomlin had given an envelope to his client.

Payton was referencing the Bountygate scandal that rocked the Saints organization from 2010 to 2012. The league launched an investigation that revealed in March 2012 that then-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams created a bounty program between 2009 and 2011 to reward his players for hits on opponents.

Williams was suspended indefinitely by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, while Payton was suspended for the 2012 campaign. Williams was reinstated and joined the Tennessee Titans in 2013; he is in his second year of being the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets.

As for Harrison, the four-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler played for the Steelers from 2002 until he was cut in December 2017. He won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2008 and two Super Bowls.

Tomlin has been Pittsburgh's head coach since 2007.