By now you’ve probably read all about Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison’s tirade in the August issue of Men’s Journal magazine that hits newsstands today. Harrison, who was notoriously fined $125,000 for illegal hits last year, bashed NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (calling him a “dictator,” “stupid,” the “devil,” and an anti-gay slur I’d rather not repeat). While that’s probably not his smartest move ever, what’s ten million times worse is that he also bashed his teammates. And, that is just not done.
Regarding Ben Roethlisberger’s Super Bowl performance, Harrison said, “Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again. Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain’t that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does.”
He also called Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall a “fumble machine.” Mendenhall shot back on Twitter, but took the high road to minimize drama.
The thing I find interesting about this is not that Harrison said what he did. Athletes say outrageous things all the time. What’s fascinating is that Harrison unleashed all of this to a print publication. Twitter and blog posts and Facebook can all be deleted (although never fast enough to disappear forever) and can be written off with an apology about hasty fingers. Also doesn’t this guy have an agent or PR person who can keep him from unleashing to the press?
It appears Harrison is standing behind his comments about the NFL commissioner, and frankly there are a lot of other players who likely agree with the sentiment. I’m sure Goodell is frustrated that, considering everything was said during a lockout, there’s likely nothing he can do to punish Harrison for his scathing words. Although, I have a feeling he’ll find some way to get back at him next season probably in the form of bigger fines and harsher punishments. Harrison’s going to learn the hard way that when it comes to a job, it’s never a good idea to bash your boss.
And, he’s already learning the hard way from fellow NFL players that breaking the unwritten code that you don’t bash your teammates is not cool.
Listen, I’m not going to lie. I love when athletes go on a good rant. And it’s even better when it happens during a slow week for sports (Women’s World Cup notwithstanding). As long as they cut it out with the homophobic slurs, a good outburst can be totally entertaining. Yeah, I’ll take controversy and insanity all day long, just as long as none of it is coming out of the mouth of a player on my home team.