James Harrison's Agent: Tomlin Giving Ex-Steelers LB Envelope 'Never Happened'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2020

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 29: Linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin walk off the field after a football game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 29, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks won the game 39-30. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

James Harrison said on Barstool Sports' Going Deep podcast this week that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin handed him an envelope after his hit on Mohamed Massaquoi in 2010 gave the Cleveland Browns receiver a concussion and resulted in Harrison receiving a $75,000 fine from the NFL.

On Thursday, however, Harrison's agent denied it ever happened.

"Absolutely not. Never happened," Bill Parise told Joe Rutter of the Tribune-Review. "I would have known that. It didn't happen."

Steelers president Art Rooney II also doubted that Harrison's version of events took place:

ProFootballTalk @ProFootballTalk

Steelers president Art Rooney II, on James Harrison's claim that he received "an envelope" from Mike Tomlin: "I am very certain nothing like this ever happened. I have no idea why James would make a comment like this but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this."

"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," Harrison said on the podcast. "I ain't gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that."

The story caught the attention of New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, who was suspended for the entirety of the 2012 season as punishment for the team's Bountygate scandal in which it was alleged that the team had a bounty pool and payouts went to defensive players for injuring opponents.  

Mike Triplett @MikeTriplett

Sean Payton's reaction to James Harrison claim that he got "envelope" from Mike Tomlin after helmet-to-helmet hit: "If people are waiting for the league to investigate that they shouldn’t hold their breath. I think what took place with us back in 2011 in so many ways was a sham." https://t.co/SOSEqCSnXo

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that the NFL declined to comment on Harrison's comments.

The optics of the situation aren't great for the Steelers. For one, both Tomlin and Rooney defended Harrison at the time.

"I think the play was a legal hit," Rooney said. "It's on the borderline, though."

"James' play, I think, was a football play," he added. "I understand the part about not launching yourself. I think that's the part that was on the borderline. I mean, did he lunge at the guy to make the tackle or did he launch himself?"

And Harrison didn't exactly express remorse.

"Listen, on everything I love, on my daddy's grave, I hit that man with about 50 percent of what I had and I just hit him because I wanted him to let loose of the ball," Harrison said. "If I had knew they was gonna fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him."

It remains to be seen if the NFL will investigate the matter or if Harrison's story is even true. Regardless, the Steelers will have surely preferred Harrison never made the comments in the first place.