PITTSBURGH – NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell called Steelers linebacker James Harrison into his office Tuesday to, according to Harrison, “hear my side of the understanding of the rules and for them to give me the understanding of exactly what the rules are.”
Was it productive?
“I guess so,” he said.
Harrison later called the meeting “semi-productive” and said he “came away with a better understanding, and I guess they got a better understanding of how I see things.”
But it’s unlikely the league will listen to Harrison, according to teammate Troy Polamalu.
“It just falls on deaf ears,” Polamalu said. “I think a lot of players have said a lot of things, and I guarantee he heard everything everybody said. But he’s got all the power, and that may be part of the problem, that there needs to be some type of separation of power, like our government.”
Harrison, of course, was fined $75,000 by the league for his hit three Sundays ago on Cleveland Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. Harrison appealed the fine because he said he didn’t have time to adjust to Massaquoi lowering his head.
“If a guy ducks his head at the last minute, right as you’re about to hit him, you can’t control that. You can’t re-adjust to that,” Harrison said.
And the league’s response to Harrison’s argument?
“Their response was: I’m the defensive player and I’m responsible for what happens,” Harrison said. “Who initiates the contact, that’s my responsibility, so I don’t know. We’ll hopefully get a better understanding.”
Harrison doesn’t expect to be fined for his late hit on Drew Brees for which he was penalized Sunday night, but was unsure.
“We’ll see,” he said.
Harrison said he’d have to change his game in “certain circumstances, where you may think about backing off of a certain play because of the outcome, maybe.”
It was pointed out to Harrison that since he’s being watched so closely, there should be more holding penalties called against those trying to block him.
“That’s what I want to know,” he said. “Half the time that I come off of a block to try and get a tackle on a quarterback or whatever it is, I’m coming off of a block where I’m being held. But they can’t see that. I don’t know.”
“I think they’ve got the James Harrison Rule,” said teammate James Farrior. “If he ain’t close enough, don’t call a hold because if you call all the holds on him the game would slow down.”