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.”