|Written by Michael|
Bet on the NFL Steelers linebacker James Harrison promised he will not change his aggressive style of play, even if the NFL and his own coach agree he must. He believes he is being unfairly targeted for hard hits that have drawn $125,000 in fines for four infractions since mid-October.
His own teammates and at least one Ravens player, linebacker Terrell Suggs argued Wednesday that the league is focusing extra and possibly unwarranted attention on any Harrison hit. Harrison plans to appeal all fines. His appeals of a $75,000 fine for hitting Browns wide receiver Massaquoi a $20,000 fine for a blind-side hit on Saints quarterback Brees were rejected Monday. One day later, Harrison was fined $25K for roughing Bills quarterback Fitzpatrick.
While Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Harrison probably should change his tackling style to conform to the NFL's stricter enforcement of potentially dangerous hits, the linebacker said he won't.
While the NFL threatened suspensions for repeat offenders when it began its stricter enforcement of player safety rules earlier this season, Harrison hasn't been benched. League spokesman Michael Signora said there was no such penalty for the Fitzpatrick hit Sunday because it wasn't flagrant.
In response to that fine, Steelers safety Ryan Clark posted a Twitter message in which he promised the team would be "hitting harder and more vicious" Sunday against the Ravens (8-3) because they will be fined regardless.
Clark, the Steelers' player representative, also contacted the NFL Players Association to complain about the league's treatment of Harrison. And several teammates believe the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker is being repeatedly punished because his intense hitting potentially endangers some of the NFL's marquee players. Unlock HQ Video HQ video delivered by Akamai
Partly because of Harrison's latest fine, Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward ripped into the NFL, arguing the league toughened its player-safety stance only because it wants to expand to an 18-game season.
Harrison also believes his Oct. 17 comments that he doesn't mind hurting players as long as he doesn't badly injure them might have led to the NFL's close scrutiny of him. Two helmet hits by Harrison that day caused concussions to Massaquoi and fellow Browns receiver Joshua Cribbs minutes apart during the Steelers' 28-10 victory.
Harrison also is troubled because Broncos Josh McDaniels was fined $50,000 for not reporting that a videographer illegally taped a 49ers practice and Titans cornerback Cotland Finnegan and Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson were fined $25,000 each for fighting, yet he was fined more for a non-penalized hit.