James Harrison’s Hole Gets Deeper

Senior Writer

According to Drew Brees, the NFL Lockout is almost over. According to Chad Ochocinco, it’s far from over. Either way, while the NFLPA* and team owners met into the late hours last night, James Harrison’s big mouth continues to be the top NFL news because that’s all we’ve got. Well, except for Hines Ward’s DUI, and he must be absolutely loving Harrison right now.

Harrison recently sat down for an interview with Paul Solotaroff of Men’s Journal, which I once read on an airplane, and he sounded off about everything from his hatred of Roger Goodell to his problems with his own teammates. And if you haven’t already read the article, Harrison really sounded off. Most notably, he called out Ben Roethlisberger for some mistakes in the Super Bowl and pointed out that he’s not Peyton Manning, he labeled Rashard Mendenhall as a “fumble machine”, he said that Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing is “juiced out of his mind”, and he called Roger Goodell many things, including (allegedly) a f*ggot. Harrison also defended his reputation, most notably as a thug, but… hey, did I mention that banner pic is the lead image from the article?

And with all of that on paper, published and available on magazine racks, Harrison claims he was misquoted and Solotaroff, the guy who says he has notebooks full of other quotes and hours of digital interviews, agrees.

“We talked about 11 o’clock yesterday morning,” Solotaroff said on Thursday. “Look, James is the guy who’s got to live with Ben for the next three years. . . . So as I told James, ‘Listen, whatever you’ve got to say to mend fences is perfectly fine with me.’” (Via Pro Football Talk)

That’s the quote that really should stop the story. Solotaroff is an admittedly big fan of Harrison, which moves this article from “insightful interview” to “sloppy knob polish” and renders it irrelevant, as far as journalistic integrity. Essentially, Solotaroff told Harrison that he can say whatever he wants and he’ll manipulate and fix it after the fact. As I learned in one of the few journalism classes I stayed awake during, that’s not kosher.

But what is relevant is that Harrison has a big mouth and he said a bunch of things that he can’t take back. Cushing has since said he would pray for Harrison, whatever that means, and it has been reported that Roethlisberger and Mendenhall will take Harrison at his word (translated: they’ll share some “What the f*ck”s in private). Goodell, though, is a different story. While he has his hands full trying to make sure that Harrison and the rest of the players have a job this season, I can’t imagine that he’s going to look to favorably upon a guy that he has never looked favorably upon.

Solotaroff on Harrison’s nasty hit on Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohammed Massaquoi, for which Harrison was fined $75,000:

“Massaquoi is coming across the middle and only an idiot kid quarterback is going to lead his receiver — lead his receiver! — into a zone knowing that James Harrison is lurking back there.”

Take heed, NFL quarterbacks! Throw not toward James Harrison, lest ye be labeled a buffoon and wear the crown of shame!

On Goodell’s alleged targeting of Harrison:

“I was furious at the way James got done by Goodell last year. I thought making him the poster boy for this abrupt and arbitrary rule change . . . was about the most wrongheaded thing you could do, particularly since Goodell seemed bent on singling James out.”

Except there was no arbitrary rule change. Harrison was penalized more harshly than any previous player, but helmet-to-helmet and leading with the helmet were still already rules. Harrison argues that these rules don’t compensate for reaction time by the defender, which is a good point, but you don’t appeal something or change a rule by telling a reporter that you wouldn’t piss the NFL commissioner out if he were on fire. Basically, Solotaroff is Harrison’s cheerleader so he’s viewing it with gunmetal glasses on. Did Goodell target Harrison to set an example? Probably. That $75,000 fine was $25K more than the $50K fines that Dunta Robinson and Brandon Merriweather received the same day. But what does writing a “Let us know how you really feel” piece actually accomplish? I guess we’ll find out eventually.

Excerpts of Harrison on Goodell:

That is why he still boils over losing to Green Bay in last year’s Super Bowl: He wanted so badly to mount the postgame podium, snatch the trophy from Roger Goodell, and tell him to his face, on national TV, exactly where to stick those fines. “I’d have whispered in his ear, ‘Why don’t you quit and do something else, like start your own league in flag football?’ ”

“They take 10 plays out of 4,000 snaps and want to know my thought process on each,” he says. “What I tried to explain to Goodell, but he was too stupid to understand, is that dudes crouch when you go to hit them. With Massaquoi, my target area was his waist and chest, but he lowered himself at the last possible second and I couldn’t adjust to his adjustment. But Goodell, who’s a devil, ain’t hearing that. Where’s the damn discretion, the common sense?”

“My rep is James Harrison, mean son of a bitch who loves hitting the hell out of people,” he says. “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.”

“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!”

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.”

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