Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Open mouth, insert foot

Back when he first came into the league as an undrafted rookie, I was with some other reporters when we happened upon a Steelers assistant coach in a local watering hole at training camp in Latrobe.

We had all been watching this unknown kid out of Kent tearing up blocker after blocker and asked the coach about young James Harrison.

The coach basically said that the kid wasn't going to make it because he didn't want to listen to anyone – coaches, teammates, you name it.

At first, the coach seemed right. Harrison bounced around the league a little bit before finally landing with the Steelers on a full-time basis. It took him some more time before he finally "got it" and began playing within the system, doing what was asked of him.

Was he always a talent? Sure. That much was obvious. But he didn't become a star until he finally realized that football was a team game.

Now, after several years as a star player, we're seeing a Harrison who is seemingly trying to live up to his "bad boy" image.

His statements in a recently released magazine piece seem to reinforce that.

Unfortunately, I've seen this show before. And it was from a player at the same exact position as Harrison.

Back in the '90s, Steelers linebacker Greg Lloyd went from being a team leader and respected locker room presence to a guy who started believing all the hype surrounding himself.

He wasn't afraid to offend anyone, including his own teammates, particularly those on the offensive side of the ball.

Did it adversely affect the Steelers in the locker room? Nope. The offensive guys just shook their heads and wrote it off as Lloyd being Lloyd.

They all have a job to do. When you have 53 men in a locker room, there's a good chance that some of them aren't going to be best buddies. But the organization has to rely on the fact that they are all professionals and that when they get on the field, everyone is going to do their job.

They don't have to like each other. They don't even have to fully respect each other. But everyone has to do their job to the best of their abilities.

Harrison's comments about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his two interceptions in the Super Bowl are something that probably should have been best left unsaid. But at the end of the day, they'll have no bearing on the Steelers moving forward.


marc said...

can we please get these guys on the field before they self implode?

Patrick said...

when did this team become a bunch of idiots?

and if Harrison wants to bash Ben, he better bash the line, and the piss poor effort just about everybody on the team gave during that game.

And then he should send James Jones a thank you card for not ending the game a lot sooner than it did.

I've always loved Harrison, but what a moron. Was he drunk during this interview?

Anonymous said...

"Harrison's comments about quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his two interceptions in the Super Bowl are something that probably should have been best left unsaid."

Gee, you think so?

The only person who could possibly be happy with James Harrison's antics is Hines Ward because it takes the attention away from him.

Anonymous said...

I also think its a little funny that Harrison gets so mad about the fines he gets from Goodell, didn't they total like $75,000? Thats chump change to him.

adamg said...

The comments didn't bother Mendenhall.

As for Ben not being Peyton Manning, it's been well know for a long time he isn't the student of the game Manning is. The fact that Ben makes more plays than he muffs doesn't change that.

Anonymous said...

Jeez, the Steelers are becoming like, I don't know, a bunch of reality show wives or something.

I really wish Harrison and to a lesser extent Woodley would just shut up about the league. I could see how the defense is sick of having to carry the offense over the years, but keep it in-house. (Yes, I know the Steelers D got torched by Rodgers -- but, in general, we've had a top 3 defense and an average offense the last few years; and yes, Ben led the TD drive vs. Arizona in 2008 but do we win that game without Harrison's interception return? Hell, do we beat Baltimore in the 2008 AFCCG without Troy's pick-six?)

Hines drunk driving, Mendenhall's stupid Chomsky-ish bin Laden comments, Clark twittering whatever, Woodley whining about the league, Ben leading super-incredible secret workouts way better than everyone else's, people like me paying attention to this nonsense in July while on vacation....

Steve-O said...

Lets face it, if James Harrison wasn't equipped with the god given talent to play outside linebacker he'd be working as a high school janitor in some little turd of a town. He's ill equipped to handle a magazine interview and his agent/handlers ought to know better than to allow him to open his mouth and confirm for everybody that he's not much more than a talented thug.

The parallels that Dale draws to Greg Lloyd are very good and like Lloyd, Harrison's best days are behind him. That's not to say that he isn't playing at a high level but father time is slowly wearing him down and he's not going to be the beast he was two years ago. With that in mind I can only pray that his teammates don't tear him down... like he just did to them.

Tim said...

It all would be better left unsaid by him on anyone on the team, but it is true. Without either of those picks I believe we win the game, and I put both those picks, especially the second one, on Ben.

It must be frustrating to not be allowed to say something so obvious. But still... Just close your eyes, think about your bank account, smile, and shut the f*ck up.

adamg said...

There'd probably be a lot less angry words for Goodell if the league actually enforced offensive line holding calls. If I were Harrison and I got so obviously held every single time I rushed the passer and then flagged or fined those few times I did get loose and hit the qb, I'd probably be ready to blow my top, too.

If I were targeted by the league to "send a message" to other players, which I personally think is the case here, I'd be angry about that, too.

Should you go public with this, probably not, but it's kind of understandable why you might.

Bashful said...

What James Harrison needs is a good case of agent orange.
His agent needs to stick an orange in Harrison's mouth to keep it shut.

slab said...

Harrison had one tackle, a sack, in the Superbowl. The defense gave up 24 points. Blaming the Superbowl loss on just the offense is stupid, but you don't have to be a rocket scientist to play LB.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Dale.

These are FOOTBALL players, who gives a crap about them being Hollywood politically correct!! It doesnt take a whole lot of brains to play football....

"If it wasn't for football, I wouldn't be playing football today!" lol

Anonymous said...

James Harrison was held in check by Chad Clifton in the Super Bowl. Woodley was fought to a standstill - although at least he got near Rodgers pretty often - by whoever their other tackle was. Anyway, that was months ago.

In general, I wish all Steelers would just shut up.

Would anyone be surprised if James Harrison was as "juiced" as Cushing is? Or Aaron Smith, or Kiesel, or whoever. I would bet that HGH, etc. is rampant on all rosters.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Steelers gonna sign any CB's or they just going to play Willie Gay and watch him get embarassed again?

joe said...

i wish more players had the sack to comment on the fraud rog is trying to push as safety for the players. i don't want to hear another word about safety from rog until they mandate the newer, safer helmets and do something about the shoulder pads.
from all accounts jh works out like a beast and plays the game with intensity. he would have fit right in during the 70's. for me, all players fall under the suspicion of taking roids or hgh. but i would be more surprised to hear that jh is on roids than i would if ward got busted for it.
dale, your dislike of lloyd is well known. clearly jh is respected on the team, and the comparison isn't valid to me

adamg said...

Came out today that Harrison has had two back surgeries to correct disc problems in his back right after the Super Bowl. Might help explain why he didn't have his best game that day.

Anonymous said...

Today? That's been known since february I think. If not before april

and yes, it played a part in his ineffectiveness, but the packers LT is pretty good too