James Harrison Lights The Fire: Men’s Journal Edition


You guys know the details. Harrison spouted off to Men’s Journal while they followed him around for a couple of days and watched him do what he does. They did a photo shoot with his guns and everything, you saw that photo. He reamed Big Ben, and he reamed Rashard Mendenhall, and he really let it all out on Roger Goodell. You’ve read those comments.

Here’s why I think these things happen with guys like James Harrison:
You know those scenes in movies where the best fighter of one group fights the best fighter of the other group, and one guy is always a crazy looking giant who looks like he’s about to rip your face off and eat it for breakfast? Yeah, that’s who James Harrison would have been if he were born a thousand years ago. He’s a maniac, a warrior, born to crush skulls and wreak havoc.

You just can’t do that in the off season, or you know, you’ll end up in jail.

This really is my theory as to why things like this happen in the off-season. These guys should be back in the locker room at the practice facility, or in the weight room talking this shit over. If there wasn’t a lockout, the Steelers players would already be discussing their disappointments with the Super Bowl, and they’d be able to call each other out on what they think went wrong in the game.

It was bound to happen, whether it came out in the locker room, or in Men’s Journal. Unfortunately for James it was the latter.

There are a lot of players in this league who I think are not so unlike Harrison. NFL players are historically getting in to mischief in the off seasons and this is precisely why: They were born to fight, hit and destroy. Thank God they have an outlet for it.

Now, whether or not James is fined for his comments about Goodell is one thing, but I think he’ll be fine with his teammates. Plenty of Steelers players have tweeted that they understand where James is coming from, and that he is known for being openly critical in the locker room. I don’t think this is James trying to take shots behind his teamates’ backs, and I don’t think his teammates think so either. The only player that seemed mildly annoyed was Rashard, who tweeted a Running Backs statistics sheet for last season that showed he only had two fumbles during the regular season.

The way Harrison has been described by his teammates makes him sound not so unlike another linebacker that played for the Steelers, and we all loved at one point, Joey Porter. Harrison is a little more mysterious than the sometimes comical Joey Porter, but their message was the same: Get your shit together, or you’ll see the consequences. There is a great story of when Big Ben first got to Pittsburgh and was coming off of his 15-1 season as a rookie. Porter didn’t think that Big Ben was working hard enough in practice, and he let Ben know it…in front of the entire team in the locker room. What did Ben do? He worked his ass off until no one could criticize his work ethic.

Whether or not Porter’s reaming was warranted is up for debate, but whether he got results is clear, we’ve been to 3 super bowls under Big Ben since that public locker room annihilation.

So, whether or not Harrison’s comments were warranted is up for debate. Is Goodell a total weeeener? Yeah, I think we can all agree on that one. Do Rashard and Big Ben have ball security issues, or did Chris K just miss one too many blocks? I prefer to think the latter, but I suppose you could argue otherwise.

That brings up the issue of that gun photo. I think some explaining is in order for this one. If you’re like me, you’ve watched those special videos of the player in their homes that run on Steelers.com periodically. It was during one such video that I learned something about James Harrison.

The dude is a total hick. When his career almost didn’t happen in the NFL, he was going to become a truck driver like his father. He hunts, he fishes…He’s a hick.

And you know, that’s cool, but maybe he should have made that little fact clear before he posed for the cover of Men’s Journal with two hand guns. If we had gone in to the video with him holding his hunting rifle and wearing his John Deer hat, I’m not sure the photo would have created so much fuss. But…I suppose that WAS the point of using that photo. Men’s Journal knew it would create a stir. According to James, they took photos with him and his hunting guns, but they did not get used.

So, after reviewing all the facts, and letting the contents of the article settle some, I am more inclined to think this was no big deal. Will he get fined for destroying Goodell the way he did? Probably. Suspended? I would not be surprised, they already have a hit out on him, this is just the excuse they need. But, is this trade worthy material? Absolutely not.

Craig said it well when he covered this is The Morning Cup the other day: James Harrison is a Defensive Player of the Year type player. He’s is probably the most, or second most impactful player on this team. You don’t just trade away guys like that because they were critical of a widely criticized commissioner or his teammates. It’s just not worth it.

Mark my words: You don’t get to being the kind of player that James is without being a little crazy.

You know it’s true, cause you’ve watched him play and marveled at his tenacity just as I have. I don’t want to lose that, do you? Do you think the Steelers want to lose that?

Yeah, me neither.