Fort Worth, Texas - Steelers linebacker James Harrison remains bitter about being fined $125,000 for a series of hits in the 2010 regular season that the NFL considered excessive.
"They took $100,000 out of my pocket. You think I’m not bitter?" Harrison said at Super Bowl Media Day at Cowboys Stadium, making his frustration with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell perfectly clear.
Harrison was actually fined $125,000 for the hits against Browns receivers Joshua Cribbs and Mohammed Massaquoi, Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Harrison briefly considered retirement early in the season, but admitted he'd been too quick to make such a rash decision.
"At the time, it was something that was really serious," Harrison said. "Stepping back and having time to look at it and evaluate it, it was a decision not well thought out, not planned out."
Harrison said after being fined $75,000 for the Massoquoi and Cribbs hits that he wants to "hurt people." He feels that comment led to additional sanctions.
"That contributed to a lot of why I was fined so much," he said. "If I had walked away, I don’t think the fine would have been as drastic as it was."
He made it crystal clear he doesn't want to hurt anyone. In fact, he even joked about how gently he now wants to tackle the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
"I don’t want to hurt nobody," he said. "I don’t want to step on nobody’s foot and hurt their toe. I don’t want to have no dirt or none of this rubber on the field fly into their eye and make their eye hurt. I just want to tackle them softly on the ground, and if y’all can, lay a pillow down where I’m going to tackle them so they don’t hit the ground too hard, Mr. Goodell."
Harrison said he hasn't had to drastically change his tackling technique, but has been more aware of where to put his head when hitting players.
"When it comes down to it, it’s about the placement of your head when you hit somebody," he said. "Sometimes, you can place your head to where it’s out of the way and sometimes you can’t. You take the risk of moving your head one way or another, if they move, then you’ll miss the tackle. You need to get your head in front … so that you can assure the tackle and they don’t run through you. Sometimes you can get that done, sometimes you can’t. It's a fast game."
Harrison met with Goodell last season to discuss the hits, but the linebacker said he didn't make any headway with the commissioner.
"What made it even worse was they said, you can’t put any part of the helmet on [an opposing player while making a tackle]," he said. "With that being said, you can probably count 30 times a game where somebody hit somebody and part of their helmet hits their shoulder pads or something while they’re tackling them that’s a defenseless receiver that they don’t call a flag and aren’t fined for."
I asked if he tried to make a case to Goodell, but Harrison said he didn't bother.
"There’s no need to make a case," he said. "That’s like trying to make a case to a cop that gives you a ticket, and you go to court and that same cop that gave you the ticket, he’s the judge, too. You can’t make a case."