Since coming into the NFL James Harrison has always played with a ton of energy, a ton of intensity, and has always played with a chip on his shoulder. It’s that attitude that has led him to overcome a ton of adversity on his way to becoming one of the best defensive players in the NFL. That same attitude has cost him a lot of money thanks to his illegal hits that he has put on numerous players throughout his career. It has also led to him being one of the most outspoken players in the NFL when it comes to the new rule changes and the things that Commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to clean-up.
James Harrison crossed the line this past week when quotes from an article that will appear in the August issues of Men’s Journal were released publically. Not only does Harrison target the Goodell in the article, but he also takes shots at his teammates, Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall. Harrison has the right to speak his mind. Everyone does. But he also has to be responsible when talking publicly and take accountability for his actions and his comments. The way that he spoke so belligerently about his teammates, current players, former players, and the commissioner just makes him sound ignorant. James Harrison is still the baddest dude in the NFL, he is still one of the best players on the defensive side of the ball, but he just became divisive in the Steelers locker room, he might have lost the trust of some of his teammates, and created yet another headache in Steeler country in an already tumultuous offseason for the reigning AFC Champs.
Rodney Harrison joined The Dan Patrick Show to talk about what he thought about James Harrison’s comments, on the idea that the NFL is targeting James Harrison, whether or not James Harrison may be looking for attention, and how he thinks this will play in the Steelers locker room.
When he heard about James Harrison’s comments:
“I found out coming from the airport, I was getting off a plane and someone called me. They said that he called me a clown. I really don’t understand the fact that he would even go there with me because I was basically saying he needed to change the way he played because you don’t want to hurt somebody, you don’t want to even hurt yourself. I talked about the money but more importantly than that in 10, 15, or 20 years down the line when he’s out of football, he has to understand he has kids, he’s going to be married if he’s not married already, and he has to take care of himself. I really think the comments that struck me were the comments he made about Commissioner Goodell.”
On the NFL possibly targeting James Harrison:
“It’s no different than me Dan. I felt the same way as far as maybe the NFL is targeting me, but eventually you’re gonna have to change the way you play and the Commissioner is doing a fabulous job of trying to get these jobs to understand that. The NFL is trying to protect themselves because 10 or 15 years down the line there are going to be guys that come back and say I can’t remember this. I’ve got dementia and I’m going to sue the National Football League. He’s trying to protect the best interest of the National Football League and he’s going to have to change the way he plays. I looked at the comments and for me, very immature comments from James Harrsion. Obviously it’s a senseless statement that he made calling Roger Goodell the devil. How do you make comments like that? That’s flat out cruel and that’s a little bit extreme. Let’s flip it because there is a little bit of a double standard in my eyes. If Commissioner Goodell called him a devil or a ruthless thug, what would happen to the Commissioner? I think it’s just a double standard. I think it’s wrong, I think it’s immature, I think it’s ignorant and somebody needs to grab him by the coattails and tell this guy to shut up and grow up because it’s bad. You can’t make those type of statements about people. Furthermore, if you wanted to get to know Roger Goodell go to New York and spend time with the man. Don’t make these comments if you haven’t spent any time with him. I just think it’s sad and somebody from the Pittsburgh organization needs to sit this guy down and say shut up and play football. Play football better. Like you said he’s not even the best defensive player on his football team. He needs to focus on that.”
On why he thinks James Harrison believes the league is targeting him more:
“It’s funny because guys like that who make comments like that they’re always looking for an excuse. You’re absolutely right Dan. I think he’s looking for attention, he’s looking for people to notice him and recognize him. He’s bitter, he’s angry inside and I don’t know how that could ever be being a guy that was undersized, got cut a couple of times, and now he’s one of the highest paid defensive players in the game. It’s just crazy to me. You look at Ray Lewis, a guy who does it right all the time. He may get a penalty or a fine once a year but a guy that can tackle low, has great form, a guy that can get up, celebrate, knock your brains out, but still help you up and give you a hug after the game. Why can’t this guy be the same way?”
On the comments he made about Harrison on Football Night in America:
“You know what? If he watched it and rewinds the tape he will see that I was actually in favor of him being a great player. I talked about this guy being the standard of the football player, he’s one of the toughest guys out there, and he’s an absolute beast. At the same time you don’t want to be known for vicious, illegal hits because that’s going to take away from how good you are as a football player and that’s what happened to me in my career. I was known for illegal hits and dirty hits and it took away from Pro Bowls, All-Pros, it can possibly affect me in the future in Hall-Of-Fame voting, and I didn’t want the same thing to happen to this guy. That’s why I talked about him changing the way he played and changing the way he hits.”
How his comments will play in the Steelers locker room:
“I think he loses respect in the locker room because guys look at him and say he’s a defensive leader, he’s a guy that we’re supposed to trust and all of the sudden he’s going behind their backs talking in an interview about his quarterback and his running back. If you’ve got something to say then say it to those guys faces, but don’t go behind your guys backs. How can I trust you? How can I line up next to you if you’re stabbing me in the back? It’s a deep-rooted internal feeling that he has and somebody really needs to check on him. Maybe some of those hits to the head are really affecting him now.”