Shortly after sending Browns receivers Joshua Cribbs and Mohamad Massaquoi out of Sunday's game with concussions, Steelers linebacker James Harrison told reporters, “I try to hurt people." Harrison back-tracked on those remarks today. "I don’t want to hurt anyone," he said in a radio interview. "I don’t want anyone to feel pain. I don’t want to do anything like, these are my words, please spread this around. James Harrison does not want to hurt anyone. I want to just make sure everyone gets out, no nothing. I don’t want anyone hurt. It’s a physically demanding game and I just don’t want anybody to get hurt. I don’t want to hurt anyone anymore. James Harrison does not want to hurt anyone.”
Harrison made the remarks in an interview on SIRIUS XM Mad Dog Radio with Gary Williams and Steve Phillips. After Sunday's game, Harrison told reporters: “I don’t want to injure anybody. There’s a big difference between being hurt and being injured. You get hurt, you shake it off and come back the next series or the next game. I try to hurt people.”
Harrison also defended himself on the hits, and suggested the NFL was unfair in slapping him with a $75,000 fine. He is appealing the fine. Harrison had said on an earlier radio interview with Tony Bruno that he’s consider retiring because he believes the league is trying to change tackling techniques he has used his entire career.
“Even if you want to say is was helmet-to-helmet, it really wasn’t helmet-to-helmet,” Harrison said. “[Massaquoi’s] helmet hit my shoulder pad if you slow everything down and look at it. We didn’t actually hit helmets. It was the shoulder pad. And he lowered his target area by a good three feet. I mean, there’s nothing really else I can do and that’s why I’m so frustrated. How can I continue to play this game the way that I’ve been taught to play this game since I was 10 years old? And now you’re telling me that everything that they’ve taught me from that time on, for the last 20-plus years, is not the way you’re supposed to play the game anymore. If that’s the case I can’t play by those rules. You’re handicapping me.”
Harrison was also miffed that the NFL had briefly been selling a picture of the hit for $195 on its website. The league has since taken the photo down and apologized for having it there in the first place.
“I found that out this morning,” Harrison said. “They’re selling the hit that they fined me $75,000 for so I guess they want to get their money on the front end and the back end.”
Harrison believes the league is taking too much of the physical nature of the sport away from defenders. When Williams suggested that tackles could be made without trying to inflict pain, Harrison said the game would fundamentally change.
“When you play the game the way that you’re talking about it being played what you have is the Pro Bowl,” Harrison said. “That’s the type of game you’ll have, is what the Pro Bowl is. We go out there, we play the game, no one is trying to do anything to anyone, everybody wants to get in and out [of] the game. Nobody wants to inflict any pain, you know, nobody gets hurt. That’s what the Pro Bowl is.”
Harrison added that he needs “a clear understanding of exactly what I got fined for” and suggested he’ll be unable to play the game effectively because of what the league is now asking of defensive players.
“If I got fined for what is right there on that tape, then I don’t see how I can continue to be effective and play this game,” he said. “I mean, literally, you’re handicapping me. You’re taking away what, like I said, I was taught for the last 20 years on how to play the game. I can’t go in there and do what it is that I do, that I have been doing, and be effective. So, yeah, that is something that I’ll have to consider doing. I mean, I’m afraid to go out here and play the game the way I’ve been playing it. I mean, literally.”