Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison may have cost himself money and inflamed the reaction over his hits on Browns receivers Joshua Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi when he said after the game he wants to hurt people.
On Wednesday, Harrison changed his tune on Sirius XM’s ''Mad Dog Radio.''
"OK, well, I’ll no longer say that,'' Harrison said. '' I don’t want to hurt anyone any more. I don’t want anyone to feel pain. James Harrison does not want to hurt anyone.''
Harrison's $75,000 fine for the hit on Massaquoi might change what the NFL's 2008 Defensive Player of the Year says publicly, but it isn't likely to make him tackle differently. The league said Harrison's hit on Cribbs was legal because Cribbs was a running back on the play.
Of the hit on Massaquoi, Harrison told ''Mad Dog Radio,'' "Even if you want to say is was helmet-to-helmet, it really wasn’t helmet-to-helmet. His helmet hit my shoulder pad, if you slow everything down and look at it. 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 any more. If that’s the case I can’t play by those rules. You’re handicapping me.''
Harrison said he might have to contemplate retirement if the NFL mandates he can't tackle the way he has been his entire career.
''If I can’t get a clear understanding of exactly what I got fined for. ... 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. ''You’re handicapping me. You’re taking away what 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.''
Harrison said suspensions by the league could turn the game into the Pro Bowl, where players merely go through the motions to avoid injury.
''When you play the game the way that you’re talking about it being played, what you have is the Pro Bowl,'' Harrison said. ''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, a Coventy High School and Kent State product, said he would rather get hit high than low because a knee injury could end his career.
"If I’m running blind and I don’t see the guy coming at me, by NFL rules, if he was to go and shoot at my knee and blow my whole knee out, that is a legal hit. All day,'' Harrison said on the show. ''If you see me running blind and I don’t see you, please hit me high and knock me silly. I’ll pay your fine for you. Just don’t hit me in my knee and end my career.''