James Harrison Sounds Off About Everything … Again

James Harrison is unhappy (and the sky is blue, grass is green, water is wet) and he’s letting everybody know all about it. In an interview with Mens Health magazine, the former defensive player of the year sounded off on his favorite punching bag (Roger Goodell), the 2004 Patriots and, perhaps most concerning of all, his own teammates, including starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He’s also pictured shirtless, posing with an FN Five-Seven Pistol and a Smith & Wesson Revolver. Bottom line: people are going to be talking about this. All of it. Every last word of it.

Some of the comments getting the most attention:

On how he wouldn’t piss on a burning Roger Goodell…

“My rep is James Harrison, mean son of a bitch who loves hitting the hell out of people. But up until last year, there was no word of me being dirty — till Roger Goodell, who’s a crook and a puppet, said I was the dirtiest player in the league. 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.”

Ben Roethlisberger isn’t Peyton Manning, he just thinks he is and he should have been kind enough to throw his Super Bowl interceptions on the other side of the damn field…

“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 why he should have won another Super Bowl ring in 2004…

“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]. They got busted for it later, but, hey, they’re Goodell’s boys, so he slapped ‘em $500,000 and burned the tapes. Was he going to rescind their Super Bowls? Man, hell no!”

Try to let all of that settle in for a minute.

For me, the most concerning quotes are the ones about Roethlisberger, one of his own teammates. Harrison calling out Goodell is expected at this point, as old as it may be getting (even if you agree that Roger Goodell is an incompetent boob — and he is).

But a teammate? That viciously? Look, Roethlisberger didn’t play well in the Super Bowl (and, for that matter, neither did James Harrison or the defense), and while it’s true his turnovers (and the one by Rashard Mendenhall) were huge difference makers, the defense didn’t exactly step up to the plate and come through, either. (It’s also worth pointing out that while Harrison was blaming his teammates and complaining about missing rings, he conveniently left out the part where he managed to get one of his rings because the quarterback he called out bailed out the defense after blowing a double-digit fourth quarter lead in the previous Super Bowl.)

I guess what it all comes down to for me is this: As entertaining as James Harrison is on the field, and for as refreshing as his brutal honesty was for a while, his act off of it is getting old. At this point it’s a schtick, and he’s pretty much become a caricature of himself. Athletes are in a tough position when they’re talking to the media. When they give standard, boilerplate answers we criticize them because they’re boring and have no personality. When they speak what’s on their mind, and we don’t agree with it, we tell them to keep quiet and that nobody cares what they think. But Harrison just seems to be going further and further off the deep end. Is any of this even genuine anymore? Is it real? Is he just saying shit to get a reaction? He’s becoming the NFL’s version of Brian Wilson, that insufferable douchebag relief pitcher from the San Francisco Giants that has to keep reminding everybody how crazy he is.

A few more questions to ponder:

1) Are you tired of the off-field James Harrison?

2) Will he be facing any sort of discipline from the NFL or the Steelers?

3) Is there a chance the Steelers would “Santonio” him once the lockout ends? I’d say it’s doubtful, but you never know.

EDIT: I forgot to point out this section of the article which talks about Harrison claiming to have grabbed a rattlesnake and thrown it over a fence…

Harrison, who lives in a suburb north of Pittsburgh, has come to Arizona to heal and train after back surgery over the winter, and he is bored and antagonized by the desert. “There’s snakes out there. I grabbed a rattler by his tail and threw him over the fence last month.”
You grabbed a rattler bare-handed?
“Had to,” he says. “My son was here visiting, so that bitch had to bounce out. ASAP.”

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  • ecks

    a couple thoughts:

    men’s journal is definitely going to see a sales bump for their august edition.

    i don’t think this would be as a huge deal if the lockout wasn’t going on.

    the roethlisberger INT comment is definitely out of context. what was his tone? angry or jovial? it seems like a normal offense versus defense mentality. his next line could have been, “at the same time, we’re well paid on D and could have done a better job ourselves”

    but then again probably not, but it will help me sleep at night.

    1) nah, the honesty is nice. eff the pats

    2) he’ll probably face closer scrutiny and lose any benefit of the doubt with the league office in the future

    3) tomlin will sit him down whenever the lockout gets resolved.

  • Rambis

    Harrison is a complete jerk.  Always has been, from everything I can tell.  I wouldn’t want him as a friend, neighbor, or relative. 

    At the same time, I’m don’t root for a team because it’s morally superior to the others, or because the players are nicer guys.  I root for a team to win.  Harrison has done nothing illegal.  There are no reports of steriods, toking up, beating his wife, selling crack, or anything like that. 

    So the guy is a jerk.  He’s also a tremendous linebacker and he helps our team win.  I wish all the Steelers were great, morally upstanding citizens I’d love to go have a beer with.  That ain’t life.  If and when he becomes a liability to the team, then it’s time for him to go.  Until then, I may wish he’d shut the hell up, but I still want him dumping Flacco on his head whenever he can.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UR6KXGPFIFYZSVJNCXCJNHDQJQ Bob Costas

      Not to quibble but Harrison was arrested for a domestic dispute. 

      • eddie

        weren’t all those charges dropped completely?
        http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3327255

        although, he did agree to counselling, so something was likely there.

        if you are going to mention that he was arrested, don’t forget to mention the charges were dropped.

  • eddie

    seriously?!  why so sensitive, adam?  steelers D (woodley, ryan, and deebo) are all pissed at the world, and they are letting it show this off-season.  i can’t wait for football to start.  czar goodell, get the hell out of the way, because the stillers are pissed.

    nothing is surprising in that excerpt for the article.  in fact, i’m loving how pissed off these guys are.  make no mistake, the NFL decided to target the steelers, for whatever reason.  and while tomlin has been able to keep these guys quiet like a silent killer, you’re seeing that pressure build up and blow over.

    how can you claim to be tired of deebo’s schtick?  don’t we both own “i wasn’t hired for my disposition” t-shirts?  it’s football.  nothing made me more sick than watching the pro bowl buddy-buddy game.  let these guys hate each other, and let them take it out on the field.

    one quote you missed: “he approached his opponents before a game…, and told them they were going to die that day.”  that was high school.  regarding big ben, so what?  deebo plays defense, and has always hated offensive players.  especially QB’s.  so no problem there…  also, you might recall how ben’s time in georgia selfishly almost destroyed this club’s future, so honestly it’s a little refreshing to hear deebo talk honestly about ben.  just because he’s a teammate, you can’t criticize him, but the ENTIRE rest of the world can?

    hell, deebo should by all rights have 4 rings.  yes, big ben bailed out the def in SB 43, but deebo had the biggest play in NFL history in that game, only to be trumped by another QB…  deebo hates QB’s…  it primal.  i give him slack.

    remember when deebo was a captain for a year?  potsie was asked once, if deebo’s a captain, why doesn’t he come out for the coin toss?  potsie’s response was simply, “he’s deebo.  you tell him to come out for the coin toss….”

    by all accounts, the real ones, anyway, harrison is a loving father and he does tons of charity work.  don’t forget that stuff when you read a single sided account in a story.

  • http://www.google.com/profiles/100857546184516732260 Dr Obvious

    Note the finger discipline in the pic.  Gotta respect that.

  • Tomás Nelson

    Parece que ya es costumbre que los súper sixburghs estén en ojo del huracán antes de empezar cada temporada………… =( Sería una pena que sansionen a James Harrison por decir lo que piensa, sea bueno ó malo, pero parece que hay especial rose con el comisionado y esto tienen tintes y matices de algo a nivel personal…..
    Amo a los Steelers, pero amo más a su defensiva tan fuerte y poderosa no por algo son llamados la “Cortina de Acero”

  • GlennW

    It’s James Harrison’s right to run his mouth and make an ass of himself– it’s a free country.  To be fair about it though, when Ray Lewis does the same thing, most Steelers fans are all over him to no end (as opposed to excusing Ray-Ray for being nothing more than a great football player, no more no less).  Myself, I’m increasingly finding Harrison to be an embarrassment, mostly to himself but partly to the Steelers.  Doesn’t mean that I’m not rooting for him on the football field, but similar to with Roethlisberger it’s becoming a hold-your-nose proposition.  As a Steelers fan for 40+ years, to be honest I can’t say that I like the feeling of watching my team behave little differently than the Ravens (even though logically I probably shouldn’t expect a difference).

    • Rambis

      I think we tend to defend our own, whether that’s team, family, friends, whatever.  I’d tend to excuse something my brother did more than if a stranger did it, right or wrong.  And I expect Ravens fans (and Packers and Texans and whomever) to be all over Harrison for this, as they should be. 

      Don’t forget a lot of those 70s Steelers we now treat as heros weren’t exactly choir boys, either.  Lambert said some pretty off-the-wall things at various times and could act like a jerk.  Greene punched Paul Howard in the gut after the whistle, kicked opponents, and once basically tried to beat a guy senseless with the guy’s own helmet. 

      I root for my team, and I particularly like some individual players on each year’s team:  Potsie, Aaron Smith, Ryan Clark, and Hines on recent teams, for example.  Some, like Mendenhall or Ramon Foster, I don’t care about one way or another as individual players – I just want them to help the Steelers win.  A few I actively dislike as people, even if I love watching them play.  I don’t have to like all of them, and they don’t even have to like each other.

    • nowayjose

      James Harrison never killed anyone, so it’s not really fair to compare him to Ray Lewis who has two kills under his belt.

  • Randy Steele

    I’m not going to get my shorts in a bunch about this, but Harrison stepped over the line. Again
    The remarks about Rothlisberger were especially disheartening on many levels, but all in all, I don’t much care.I do know this: I won’t be ordering a Steeler jersey with Harrison’s name on it any time soon.

    • Anonymous

      You should order a Nolan Harrison jersey just to be confusing.

  • Rob D

    I kinda go with the idea that I don’t have to like the players on the Steelers in order to root for them. Having grown up in a hockey mad small town in Canada, I quickly realized that some of my hockey heroes were first class jerks. Some were terrific human beings. Others were no more interesting than some of my most boring friends. etc. And a few seemed to be put on this earth to raise Cain. The crap disturbers.

    Harrison is in that category. He sounds like an overcaffeinated fan bitching about his life to his long suffering friends. The QB let me down. The Pats cheated. The league hates me. THIS is a mature man giving an interview to a widely read men’s magazine? It’s a very unflattering portrait. And I will go further and say its not the kind of attitude that the Rooney’s are looking for after Ben’s transgressions, Santonio’s lying/toking and Hines poor judgement.

    Does it matter to me? A little..but as much as I love Greg Lloyd’s legacy, I found him to be a jerk as well. His trip to Ireland one year with the Rooney’s was some kind of low point in international relations…lol…Harrison gets to vent his spleen if he wants. OK by me..just expect to get a lot of grief from the league and other fans over it.

    The biggest question for James is (IMO)..how do the ROONEY’S feel about him calling out the franchise QB from last year’s SB? I think he’d better hope none of the kids they drafted to replace him show themselves to be up to the task. Unlikely..yes. But he’d better be healthy and ready to go. I don’t think his timing could be any worse for a team that is plagued by offseason idiocy.

  • emceegee

    Um…Brian Wilson is constantly being ASKED to remind people how crazy (awesome) he is, on behalf of promotions for MLB, EA, Nike, Showtime, etc. Aka: he is a marketable personality in sport devoid of much individuality (at least superficially). Also, the dude is genuinely funny, and genuinely odd.

    Whereas James Harrison is a nightmare of a person who we won’t see asked to rep anything ever. He’s doing this for and to himself only…and that’s a pretty big difference.

  • Guest

    LOL! All I’ve got to say about this is, I don’t care. Have fun, James, have fun while it lasts because most assume you’ll be serving time shortly after your retirement.

  • Guest

    LOL! All I’ve got to say about this is, I don’t care. Have fun, James, have fun while it lasts because most assume you’ll be serving time shortly after your retirement.

  • Mike L

    Harrison has a right to be upset with the commish, he was fined for the browns game as if he commited two infractions, later it was revealed the hit on Josh Cribbs was legal and the other hit was correctable but not malicious.  Fine 75,000.  The responsible thing for the commish and league to do was issue money back immediately and appologize, but they were on a crusade so they left James to hang out to dry.  The fine for Vince Young was a joke, Harrison lifted his left to take away his support and two other Steelers drove him into the ground.  These fines damaged James reputation so I would be upset as well.  On the other hand you should never call out your teammates, ever.  If the D is better than the offense then should it, don’t expect them to produce equally.  Bringing up being unfairly treated by the commish is not a bad idea doing it the way James did was a bad idea.  He should have said “I have been unfairly targeted and potrayed as a cheap player through the fines issued last season.  I play football to win, to help my team win and sometimes that involves being an intimidating figure.  To go  from defensive player of the year to the poster boy for illegal hits is almost unbelievable and it is very frustrating for me.”  This type of response might have put Goddell on the spot instead of Harrison.

  • Fantrappedindelaware

    People should be able to say what they want.  Employers have continuously attempted to erode freedom of speech over the past 50 years and it’s ridiculous.  Harrison is a football player.  As long as he plays well, I don’t care if he tells orphans to go f themselves on national television.  Mean Joe Green and Jack Lambert were assholes, too.  And I loved them for it.  Goodell is a D bag and should be made to wear a t-shirt declaring it: a scarlett D if you will.
       

  • Fantrappedindelaware

    People should be able to say what they want.  Employers have continuously attempted to erode freedom of speech over the past 50 years and it’s ridiculous.  Harrison is a football player.  As long as he plays well, I don’t care if he tells orphans to go f themselves on national television.  Mean Joe Green and Jack Lambert were assholes, too.  And I loved them for it.  Goodell is a D bag and should be made to wear a t-shirt declaring it: a scarlett D if you will.
       

  • SteelerBill

    Sure, free country, and you have every right to say what you want (within reason of course)…But you also have a right to deal with the consequences of such speech.  In this case, after a little thought, I don’t have problem with the gist of it, I do have an issue with the verbiage used to get the point across.  I don’t like Goodell either, but he is the Commissioner, like it or not.  Also, throwing teammates under the bus in a public forum. (Even if he has now spoken with Ben) is wrong..

    Lastly…this is a team game and my concern is the target that has once again been placed on this whole team….

    **Side note Adam…it’s Men’s Journal, not Men’s Health**

  • Anonymous

    I also heard that he called Mendy a “fumble machine.”  Personally, I just sighed when I heard about the story.  I wasn’t surprised by anything based on what I (think) know about JH but I much prefer off-seasons where I never hear the phrase “player for the Pittsburgh Steelers” in the news!

    I understand the D and O rivalry…but at some point you need to respect your teammates don’t you?

  • JCRODRIGUEZ

    I don’t know, if we put this in business perspective, Harrison is getting really close to be “Santonioed”, by the numbers, he is on the wrong side of the 30′s, we already have ways to replace him on the line up (Timmons, Woodley, Farrior, Foote) and he is a liability for the “Steeler Brand”. I am not saying that I would do it, but I will definitively understand it.

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