First and foremost, as with any issue involving something from Pittsburgh, I have to make it abundantly clear that I am 100% from Cleveland and therefore hate all things Pittsburgh.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…
James Harrison is an effing whack job. That’s not bitter Clevelander talking either. That’s a fan of sports and a member of the human race giving an honest assessment of what has unfolded.
For those of you that might not know, and I’m sure most of you do at this point, James Harrison sat down for an interview with Men’s Journal Magazine and the results were interesting to say the least. In the interview, Harrison doesn’t hold anything back. He let’s loose on Roger Goodell’s running of the league, the fines on helmet to helmet hits, Rashard Mendenhall’s fumbleitis, Ben Roethlisberger’s superiority complex, and his hatred for puppies, Christmas, and turtleneck sweaters.
Ok, that last one was made up, but given the tirade and complete level of insanity accompanying it, it’s hard to think Harrison doesn’t feel that way about any of those things. The released photo from the interview doesn’t help matters much either. Guns? Really? As if the NFL doesn’t already have an issue with its image when it comes to its players and guns. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Plaxico Burress just get out of jail for shooting himself in the leg in public? Let it be known that right now I’m shaking my head in disbelief. (I will admit that the photo makes sense in one respect. It’s the iconic image from the video game Hitman. Don’t beleive me click here. In a way it makes sense that they would have James Harrison, a man who is know for hitting, pose like the character from Hitman.)
Here’s a few snippets:
“My rep is James Harrison, mean son of a bitch who loves hitting the hell out of people.”
On NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: “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.”
“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].”
On 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.”
On Texans linebacker Brian Cushing: “That boy is juiced out of his mind.”
On Clay Matthews: “Clay Matthews, who’s all hype — he had a couple of three-sack games in the first four weeks and was never heard from again — I’m quite sure I saw him put his helmet on Michael Vick and never paid a dime. But if I hit Peyton Manning or Tom Brady high, they’d have fucked around and kicked me out of the league.”
Harrison also goes out of his way to call Teddy Bruschi an idiot, throw Dick LeBeau under the bus for why he makes the hits he makes, threatens to beat up Rodney Harrison, drops enough “mother fuckers” to make Eminem blush, and for good measure calls Roger Goodell a “punk,” “dictator,” “Faggot Goodell,” and for good measure… “the devil.”
Please James… don’t hold back. Seriously, tell us how you really feel.
I can’t possibly begin to comprehend how Harrison could actually let these quotes fly out of his mouth and into the pages of a magazine article. How was his agent not aware of either what he was saying or what was going to be published? How did someone close to him not stop this train wreck from happening? It’s blatantly obvious that someone failed James Harrison on all levels here, none more so than…well, James Harrison.
It’s one thing to be a tough son of a bitch on the football field. It’s something completely different to act this way off of it. I get that he’s trying to ramp up his image, thus the tough guy attitude, the coarse language, and the aforementioned photo, but seriously… this was too much. James Harrison, despite his enormous talent, might have just shot himself in the foot, no pun intended.
Yes, he may not like Roger Goodell. He might legitimately hate the man. Who am I to make an assumption like that. From his own words it’s very clearly evident something is fundamentally wrong with that relationship, but the fact of the matter is that Roger Goodell is his boss and with it comes a degree of respect that should be kept in mind. If I were to go in a public forum and declare that I would piss to put out my boss, I’d be fired within the hour. Yes, James Harrison is a football player, but he is an employee of the NFL and will undoubtedly face punishment. He crossed a line.
Of course this isn’t the first time that Harrison has stuck his foot in his mouth. Throughout his career he has made a habit of being one of the league’s most outspoken players. But this wasn’t a well crafted point or funny “haha” did he just say that type of statement. This was pure hatred. Note to James Harrison, using the word faggot doesn’t make you a bad ass or super cool. It makes you an idiot. Did you not see the backlash for Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah?
To top things off, Harrison broke a sacred rule of the locker room by going after his teammates and coaches. This wasn’t Peyton Manning going after Mike Vanderjagt a couple of years ago. This was a team captain laying out his pro-bowl super bowl champion quarterback in the media. Rashard Mendenhall? I’m pretty sure he’s consistently been one of the best running backs in the NFL. The Dick LeBeau comment… Yes, I’m sure he told you guys to keep hitting hard. I’m also pretty sure he never told you to decapitate someone (exhibit A to the left).
How Harrison can walk back into that locker room and garner the same respect he did before this is beyond my level of comprehension. Players he called out will despise him. Players he didn’t mention no longer have a reason to trust him. Sure, he didn’t go after them now, but what about in the future? This just opened up an enormous can of worms for a team that undoubtedly will once again be competing for a Super Bowl.
What’s so surprising about all of this is how a player from such humble beginnings can gain such an inflated ego and sense of importance about himself. In the NFL, nothing is guaranteed. Not contracts, not success, not even longevity. James Harrison knew this all too well. He went undrafted, played on practice squads, and was cut more times than you can count on one hand. The man contemplated becoming a bus driver. Yet, somehow we got to where we are today, when a man forgets where he’s come from and seemingly takes his situation for granted. It could all be over tomorrow for Harrison. Has he forgotten this? It already seems like he’s turned his back on the NFL, but the real question still remains…
What will James Harrison do when the NFL turns its back on him?