Steelers' Harrison is D.O.A.

Pittsburgh Steelers James Harrison (92) and Brett Keisel (99) sack Cincinnati Bengals quarterback...

Pittsburgh Steelers James Harrison (92) and Brett Keisel (99) sack Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) in the third quarter of their NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, December 4, 2011. (REUTERS/Jason Cohn)

Bill Lankhof, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:16 PM ET

This is the James Harrison multiple choice. The Steelers’ linebacker is:

A. D.O.A. (Dumb On Arrival when he got to the NFL).

B. Has hit himself in the head a few times too often.

C. Decided he just doesn’t give a damn.

D. All of the above.

The inclination after watching him use his helmet to turn Colt McCoy into a human shish-ka-bob is to pick the latter. But, we’re going to be kind. Let’s just say he simply doesn’t respect his fellow NFL players or the league’s rules of fair play.

Once again, after being fined last year for similar offences, Harrison is professing innocence.

But those proclamations sound flimsy in the wake of growing evidence that these kind of plays cause irreparable damage to players’ future mental well-being.

Harrison once again led with his helmet, knocking the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback unconscious in Pittsburgh’s 14-3 win. The hit was directly responsible for helping the Steelers win, when the obviously discombobulated McCoy sat out two plays before returning and throwing an interception on third-and-goal in the end zone. It came with the Browns trailing 7-3 and 3:11 to play.

It also came the same day as news that Lew Carpenter, a player with the Lions and Packers in the 1960s, died with an advanced form of a degenerative brain disease (Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy) found in athletes who have absorbed repeated blows to the head.

It also comes with the quarterback’s father, Brad McCoy, ripping the Browns (and, good on him) for putting his son back in the game. “He never should’ve gone back in the game,” Brad McCoy told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He was basically (unconscious) after the hit. You could tell by the rigidity of his body laying there. There were a lot of easy symptoms that should’ve told them he had a concussion. He was nauseated and he didn’t know who he was.”

His son was also having difficulty seeing. “He couldn’t face the lights in his press conference,” Brad McCoy said. “The TV lights and the stadium lights were killing him. Why would you say he was fine (to continue playing)?”

So, once again there will be talk of fines. The issue here is that Harrison obviously doesn’t care if he’s fined. Last year he paid out $125,000 to the league for illegal hits, including a vicious assault that injured Cleveland’s receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. The only thing Harrison hasn’t repeated is that claim of last year that he doesn’t know how to play in this league anymore.

Maybe he should. It is about the only thing he’s said about his behaviour that makes any sense.

He doesn’t know how to play.

He knows how to hit. That’s obvious from the chin McCoy now sees three or four of when he looks in a mirror. Harrison clearly lowers his helmet and the crown of his helmet makes direct contact with McCoy’s jaw. So, he knows how to hurt people, that’s obvious. But there are kids playing minor league football from Mississauga to Brampton who seem to better understand the mechanics of tackling.

Like Ndamukong Suh in Detroit, Harrison plays without rules. Even his own coach, Mike Tomlin, not exactly known for his timidity, couldn’t mount much of a defence this time. “(McCoy) had just thrown the football,” Tomlin said when asked about the hit. “So they called it a helmet-to-helmet hit.”

Unlike Suh, Harrison doesn’t even profess to be the least bit sorry.

“From what I understand, once the quarterback leaves the pocket, he’s considered a runner,” Harrison told reporters after the game. “The hit wasn’t late, so I really don’t understand why it was called.” So, maybe he’ll understand this.

The league needs to suspend Harrison. Just like it suspended Suh. Now. Maybe he can use the down time to, oh I don’t know, figure out “how to play in this league.”

TUCK & COVER

Justin Tuck wants to make one thing clear as his Giants prepare for two games that will decide the NFC East title in the next four weeks against the Cowboys.

He hates Dallas. “...me wanting to be a Cowboy? Hmm. I don’t wear Wranglers, cowboy hats or boots or those buckle belts. I don’t wear none of that. And I don’t need a star on my helmet to tell me I’m pretty good at what I do,” Tuck said, after Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware, told reporters that Tuck was jealous of the Cowboys and secretly wanted to join the team.

Tuck and Ware did agree on one point. “They hate us and we hate them,” Tuck said.

COLD SORES

The Oakland Raiders will make the playoffs but there is concern how healthy they’ll be once they get there. Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford, Denarius Moore and Taiwan Jones should miss Sunday’s game against the Packers. “Everybody’s going to write and say what they want and pour dirt on us, but this team will be back,” said coach Hue Jackson as he painted his latest ‘The Whole World Is Against Us Scenario.’

Jackson wants everyone to forget a loss to the Dolphins. But the only way that happens is if they go into frigid Lambeau Field and overcome the unbeaten Packers.


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