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hawaiiansteel
09-09-2011, 02:51 AM
NFL 2011: Misunderstood by many, Harrison is lauded by his teammates

Posted: Thursday, September 8, 2011
By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com

http://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/timesonline.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/26/82657cd3-30ed-5a90-8a15-6928579d5328/4e66ee9c764ba.preview-300.jpg

PITTSBURGH ó James Harrison knows there are people who donít understand him. He knows there are people who donít like him. He knows there are people who think heís a dirty player. He knows there are people who donít care if heís fined $1 million this season.

But he also knows that none of those people can be found inside the Steelersí locker room.

When heís with teammates and coaches, Harrison is at peace with himself. Football is his safe haven.

Heís a menacing warrior on the field, especially on gameday when he plays outside linebacker with a tenacity matched by few in the NFL. But thatís all part of the makeup of one of the most astounding characters in Steelersí history.

ďJames is just a big kid,Ē tackle Willie Colon said. ďHeís sometimes misunderstood because he does speak his mind. He does say what he wants to say whether itís politically correct or not. But heís a great guy. I mess with him. I joke with him all the time.

ďHeís brash, but at the same time, he always plays his tale off. He plays injured. He puts up big numbers. Heís a leader for that defense. Every time we need a big play, he comes up with one. People just have to give the man his just due. Heís come from the bottom and worked his way to the top, and now heís succeeding.Ē

Harrison is an amazing success story. Heís a native of Akron, Ohio, and the youngest of 14 children in his family. The story goes that he ended up at Kent State rather than at a more prestigious college football factory because he was often in trouble in high school.

Undrafted out of college, he was cut so many times by the Steelers (and once by Baltimore) that itís hard keeping track of how many times he actually was told to move on.

But Harrison never stopped dreaming of playing in the NFL, and his that came true in 2004 after Steelers linebacker Clark Haggans broke his hand while lifting weights just before training camp.

Realizing that the Steelers needed a linebacker in a hurry, Harrisonís agent Bill Parise quickly called to offer his clientís services. Harrison was signed and made the team.

Then after three seasons as a backup and special teams whiz, Harrison got his big chance when Joey Porter wasnít re-signed.

Since then, Harrison has played as well as than any linebacker in Steelers history over a four-year period, and that includes Hall of Famers Jack Lambert and Jack Ham.

Heís been to four straight Pro Bowls. He was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 when he set a Steelersí single-season record with 16 sacks.

ďThe James Harrison story is a neat story ... itís an American story,Ē linebackers coach Keith Butler said. ďThis is what this country is all about. You can start at any level of society and raise yourself up. Thatís what James Harrison did. He did it through hard work. He did it by persevering every time he may have failed.Ē

It hasnít always been a smooth ride.

There was his arrest in 2008 for hitting his girlfriend during a domestic quarrel. There were the four fines levied upon him last year, totaling $100,000, for hits on opposing players that the league office deemed excessively flagrant. And when just before training camp this summer, there were controversial comments made by Harrison in Menís Journal magazine story titled ďJames Harrison: Confessions of an NFL Hitman.Ē In that story, Harrison took shots in several directions, aiming at NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews, NFL Network commentators Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison and even teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall for their turnovers in the Super Bowl XLV loss to the Packers.

ďMy rep is James Harrison, mean son of a bitch who loves hitting the hell out of people,Ē Harrison said in Menís Journal. ďBut up until last year, there was no word of me being dirty ó till Roger Goodell, whoís a crook and a puppet, said I was the dirtiest player in the league. If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldnít do it. I hate him and will never respect him.Ē

At the start of training camp, Harrison immediately apologized to Goodell, who in turn didnít punish Harrison for his remarks. Roethlisberger and Mendenhall said they didnít need an apology.

ďYou know, James is off the wall sometimes,Ē wide receiver Hines Ward said. ďBut thatís just James being James. For everything heís gone through in his life over the years, itís hard to explain what heís feeling. I donít know what itís like to travel the path heís traveled to get to where heís at today.

ďIím just happy and honored to be one of his teammates. Heís a great teammate.Ē

Butler and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau agree. They see his work ethic on the practice field and in the weight room. They appreciate his attention to detail in the meeting room where they say Harrison is a real student of the game.

And, of course, they enjoy watching him play on gameday.

ďHeís crazy. Heís out of his mind. He needs therapy. He better check into a psych ward real fast,Ē second-year linebacker Stevenson Sylvester said, tongue-in-cheek, when asked about Harrison.

ďReally, James Harrison is real cool. Seriously, heís a great guy to look up to, especially for a young guy like me, especially when you want to check out how you need to be working and carry yourself as a professional. Heís one of the guys you need to look.Ē

Even a fifth-year pro like Colon looks up to Harrison.

ďHeís one of those guys you always look at to see what heís doing so you can up your game,Ē Colon said. ďSo I love the guy. I think heís awesome.Ē

When asked about everything heís accomplished so far, Harrison chose not to reflect.
ďIím not done yet,Ē he said. ďMaybe Iíll look back at things once Iím done playing. But Iím not there yet. All Iím focusing on is this season, starting with Baltimore.Ē

As far as how heíll approach this season in light of the fines he incurred last year, Harrison said he wonít change the way he plays.

ďAs far as Iím concerned, I didnít do anything wrong,Ē he said. ďIím going to play the game the way Iíve always played.

ďPeople want to look at four or five plays from the 100 or so tackles I made and say Iím a dirty player. I understand that there has to be rules. But Iím not a dirty player. So Iíll going to keep playing the way Iíve always played.Ē

http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local ... c6930.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/local_sports/nfl-misunderstood-by-many-harrison-is-lauded-by-his-teammates/article_4317f264-d25b-54c1-8466-2f7ae57c6930.html)

Discipline of Steel
09-09-2011, 07:29 AM
[b]ďPeople want to look at four or five plays from the 100 or so tackles I made and say Iím a dirty player. I understand that there has to be rules. But Iím not a dirty player. So Iíll going to keep playing the way Iíve always played.Ē

Thank goodness for that!

DukieBoy
09-09-2011, 07:45 AM
The media and Goodell have played a significant role in shaping the negative image of James. On the field, James has done himself and the Steelers proud. Off the field, I think he has invited a bit of trouble, though, by some of his comments, giving the media some juice to throw around.

steelblood
09-09-2011, 08:22 AM
I understand he doesn't want to compromise, but does he need to keep saying that he won't change his play. That is simply inviting the league to suspend him the next time he get a unnecessary roughness flag or a fine.

Oviedo
09-09-2011, 09:11 AM
Let's hope his back doesn't bring a premature end to the James Harrison story.

I really hope he was on cruise control during the preseason because he did not look like the same player in any form or fashion. If he isn't himself we have a real issue because his pressure is what helps our weak secondary.

papillon
09-09-2011, 09:14 AM
I understand he doesn't want to compromise, but does he need to keep saying that he won't change his play. That is simply inviting the league to suspend him the next time he get a unnecessary roughness flag or a fine.

Somebody or some team has to start the revolution; it might as well be the Steelers and James Harrison. I don't mind him stating he isn't changing at all and, actually welcome these types of comments. The game has changed and not for the better in my opinion, even though ratings are up, etc.

The new generation fan likes the daintiness of the game now, older guys like me that watched football in the 70s, not so much. Unless, the Steelers are playing,I can't watch an entire game start to finish. Last night's game was boring to me, there was absolutely no chance of either defense making a play and that's too bad. The only stops by the defenses were mistakes by the opposing offense. That's boring.

Pappy

Oviedo
09-09-2011, 09:25 AM
I understand he doesn't want to compromise, but does he need to keep saying that he won't change his play. That is simply inviting the league to suspend him the next time he get a unnecessary roughness flag or a fine.

Somebody or some team has to start the revolution; it might as well be the Steelers and James Harrison. I don't mind him stating he isn't changing at all and, actually welcome these types of comments. The game has changed and not for the better in my opinion, even though ratings are up, etc.

The new generation fan likes the daintiness of the game now, older guys like me that watched football in the 70s, not so much. Unless, the Steelers are playing,I can't watch an entire game start to finish. Last night's game was boring to me, there was absolutely no chance of either defense making a play and that's too bad. The only stops by the defenses were mistakes by the opposing offense. That's boring.

Pappy

I think the reality is most fans, definitely the "Madden generation," who will be buying tickets, watching games and buying NFL products long into the future want what we saw between the Packers and the Saints last night. Wide open exciting non stop action. I think last night's game was far less boring than a team pounding the ball up the middle for 3 yard gains.

The reality is the NFL ain't going back so teams, and fans, have to adapt or become irrelevent.

P.S. For full disclosure, I actually enjoyed last night's game and it is exactly what I hope our offense does this season starting on Sunday. I am also a fan who grew up watching the Steelers of the 70s and have never played a game of Madden football.

feltdizz
09-09-2011, 10:01 AM
I'm not really a fan of those types of games. I remember the GB PIT game at Heinz and it came down to who had the ball last.

I hope our O looks like last nights game but I want our D to look like a PIT Ravens game.

Oviedo
09-09-2011, 10:41 AM
I'm not really a fan of those types of games. I remember the GB PIT game at Heinz and it came down to who had the ball last.

I hope our O looks like last nights game but I want our D to look like a PIT Ravens game.

I don't think our defense will. The way to beat our defense is on tape now and everyone will be trying to do the same thing by spreading us out and forcing our mediocre secondary to make plays. The want to see Gay on the field the majority of the time playing the nickle.

feltdizz
09-09-2011, 12:49 PM
I'm not really a fan of those types of games. I remember the GB PIT game at Heinz and it came down to who had the ball last.

I hope our O looks like last nights game but I want our D to look like a PIT Ravens game.

I don't think our defense will. The way to beat our defense is on tape now and everyone will be trying to do the same thing by spreading us out and forcing our mediocre secondary to make plays. The want to see Gay on the field the majority of the time playing the nickle.

We won't see Brees and Rogers though... some of the throws made last night were unreal. I can't see McCoy, Flacco, Cassell, Alex Smith, Dalton, etc making those throws.

LordVile
09-10-2011, 07:14 AM
There are less than 5 quarterbacks who can shred us or spread us out like that.. it's no Secret what works against us.. at least not for a few years it hasn't been

Oviedo
09-10-2011, 08:55 AM
There are less than 5 quarterbacks who can shred us or spread us out like that.. it's no Secret what works against us.. at least not for a few years it hasn't been

...and unless we get lucky there is a high probability that you will need to beat one or more of those five QBs to win Super Bowl #7.

You have to build to beat the best not the average if you want more championships.

Eddie Spaghetti
09-10-2011, 09:18 AM
and this is salary cap football. As much as you would like, ovi, you cannot field a pro bowler at every position on the football field.

this team is as strong as any in the league, IMO.

what more do you want?

papillon
09-10-2011, 09:19 AM
I understand he doesn't want to compromise, but does he need to keep saying that he won't change his play. That is simply inviting the league to suspend him the next time he get a unnecessary roughness flag or a fine.

Somebody or some team has to start the revolution; it might as well be the Steelers and James Harrison. I don't mind him stating he isn't changing at all and, actually welcome these types of comments. The game has changed and not for the better in my opinion, even though ratings are up, etc.

The new generation fan likes the daintiness of the game now, older guys like me that watched football in the 70s, not so much. Unless, the Steelers are playing,I can't watch an entire game start to finish. Last night's game was boring to me, there was absolutely no chance of either defense making a play and that's too bad. The only stops by the defenses were mistakes by the opposing offense. That's boring.

Pappy

I think the reality is most fans, definitely the "Madden generation," who will be buying tickets, watching games and buying NFL products long into the future want what we saw between the Packers and the Saints last night. Wide open exciting non stop action. I think last night's game was far less boring than a team pounding the ball up the middle for 3 yard gains.

The reality is the NFL ain't going back so teams, and fans, have to adapt or become irrelevent.

P.S. For full disclosure, I actually enjoyed last night's game and it is exactly what I hope our offense does this season starting on Sunday. I am also a fan who grew up watching the Steelers of the 70s and have never played a game of Madden football.

I don't want three yards and a cloud of dust, never did and still don't. I like all facets of the game and playing defense isn't happening very much any more. Pedestrian quarterbacks look like HOFers these days, running backs are becoming extinct and special teams (kickoffs) have been all but eliminated. The NFL will survive without dinosaurs like m,e that actually like to see a real football game with offense, defense and special teams. It's the CFL with an extra down to make 10 yards.

Last night's game was an NBA game, all offense, token defense occasionally, each team made a run, watch the last 7 minutes and see the outcome. The other 3.5 quarters were just to take up air time for commercials.

There was nothing exciting about the game to me not being a fan of either team. 84 passing plays, 40 rushing plays, really? The defenses made so few plays or were even in position to make plays all night.

Pappy

RuthlessBurgher
09-10-2011, 01:18 PM
and this is salary cap football. As much as you would like, ovi, you cannot field a pro bowler at every position on the football field.

this team is as strong as any in the league, IMO.

what more do you want?

He wants a defense like Capers' mighty Packers who can field the likes of Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, etc. and still get burned for 419 yards passing and 3 passing TD's.

steeler_fan_in_t.o.
09-10-2011, 01:54 PM
The way to beat our defense is on tape now and everyone will be trying to do the same thing by spreading us out and forcing our mediocre secondary to make plays. The want to see Gay on the field the majority of the time playing the nickle.

And the Saints put up 477 yards and 34 points on the Packers (5th ranked D in '10).

The Pack put up 399 yards and 42 points on the Saints (4th ranked D in '10).

While the egocentric Steeler Nation believes that everyone concentrates exclusively on our team, the fact is that elite offenses put up yards against some good defenses.

Saints put up 318 yards against us in New Orleans last season while the Packers - who everybody said shredded our D - put up 338 yards in the SB.

If our D has been exposed so badly, what does this say about the defenses of the great Packers and Saints?