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Friday, July 15, 2011

James Harrison - Crazy? or Crazy like a Fox?

If there’s one thing you can say about Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning, it’s that they are “Nice Guys.” And if you were asked to say one thing about Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker James Harrison, “Nice” wouldn’t be that thing.
I’m sure you’ve all heard about the stupid things Harrison said last May to an interviewer from Men’s Journal which they conveniently waited to release until this week in their August issue. Well, calling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "stupid," "a puppet" and "a dictator" isn’t “Nice,” and it also isn’t “Smart.”

While Brady, Brees, and Manning are repping the players organization to try and get a deal done to end this lockout, which, by the way better be done by July 26th because that is when I get back from vacation and I will need to get my fantasy draft kit ordered or the NFL and I will have serious BEEF. ARGrrrrr! Where was I, oh yeah, the lockout.

I understand the majority of issues the players and owners need to work out and I believe that things need to change for the NFL to continue. And, if you sort through all the crap that Harrison is quoted as saying, there are also some very valid points. The problem is, people listen to guys like Brees and Manning because they are “Nice” and “Civilized.” Unfortunately, people will disregard what Harrison said because he comes off as some kind of gun toting wacko, just another of the NFL’s problem children.

But sometimes a good message can be delivered in a really crappy package…. And I can see two serious issues that Harrison raises which need to be addressed as they are a large part of what needs fixing in the NFL. First – player safety.
Adding more games to the season will almost guarantee more injuries. Throwing flags and handing out fines isn’t going to stop them either. I’m hopeful that the new agreement involves some type of guaranteed contract terms for all players. Tackling someone high up may risk concussion, but from a players prospective it’s better than blowing out a knee and missing the rest of the season. With some kind of guaranteed terms in all contracts, players can go back to tackling the old fashioned way – low and hard and mean.

The other issue that Harrison brings up is the fact that Goodell, as the NFL commissioner, has the final say on fines and sanctions. Now, Harrison doesn’t come right out and say this. No, that silly rabbit tried to accuse Goodell of being a racist and of assessing different fines against him based on the color of the player he hit in the game. I’m really getting tired of the racism card being thrown around by highly paid athletes so I’m just ignoring that.

But the basis of what he said is still valid – The league imposes a fine and then the player has to appeal it to Commissioner Goodell. Yeah, like those fines ever get reduced or rescinded. I’m again hopeful that the new agreement sets up a different system for team and league sanctions to be assessed, as well as the appeal process that follows along with them.

As much as I want the lockout to end, I do truly believe that the NFL needed to take a hard look at itself and make some changes and I hope that the new system takes care of the both the current players properly AND the retired players.

And finally, I hope that James Harrison can explain his comments in a “Nice” way to the Rooney family once the lockout ends and they are allowed to talk again. Because at the end of the day, no matter how many times he is the Defensive player of the year, no matter how many Pro Bowls he goes to or Super Bowl rings he has, I don’t want Harrison in a Browns uniform. I’m not saying the Browns players should be “Nice” but they sure as heck need to be “Smart” – and we can all agree that Harrison sure isn’t “Smart.”

I’m Kate – and that’s my Take.

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