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Lawyer apologizes for Steelers' Harrison

| Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Through his lawyer, James Harrison apologized for the fight with his girlfriend that resulted in the Steelers linebacker's arrest on simple assault and criminal mischief charges.

"I initially told him that my advice was he not speak with any of the media nor that I speak with any of the media, and he felt strongly that I convey his contrition and his regret regarding the incident, Harrison's lawyer, Bobby Del Greco, told the Tribune-Review on Monday.

Harrison admitted to hitting Beth Tibbot, 29, at her Ohio Township home, according to a police affidavit. Both of the charges he faces are misdemeanors.

A preliminary hearing that had been scheduled for Thursday has been postponed at Del Greco's request.

The 29-year-old Harrison could be disciplined by the NFL for the incident.

Spokesman Greg Aiello said Harrison's arrest is being reviewed by the NFL.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has made cracking down on players who get into trouble with the law a point of emphasis, and he has used the league's personal conduct policy to discipline them.

Harrison started every game at right outside linebacker for the Steelers last season, and he recorded 80 tackles and 8 1/2 sacks during the regular season. He made the Pro Bowl as a starter, and Steelers players voted Harrison as the team's MVP.

The Steelers have declined to comment on his arrest.

Tibbott, according to the affidavit, told police she locked herself in her bathroom after an argument and that Harrison broke into the room as she tried to call 911. According to the affidavit, Harrison snapped her cell phone in half and knocked off her glasses by slapping her across the face.

Del Greco called it an "isolated incident" and one that Harrison deeply regrets.

"I think, truth be told, if he had that day back, he would not have gone over there," Del Greco said, "and I think James, by all accounts, is a good guy who just feels badly about the whole episode."

Del Greco said there is a chance the matter could be resolved at the preliminary hearing, which has yet to be rescheduled.

Harrison declined to comment on his arrest Sunday when the Tribune-Review asked him about it at his Franklin Park home.

"He, of course, doesn't condone domestic violence," Del Greco said, "and I think is bothered and upset with the fact that his name is associated with that phrase."

The 6-foot, 242-pound Harrison turned into a somewhat improbable success story last season.

Cut three different times by the Steelers, he didn't stick with the team for good until 2004.

A former undrafted free agent, Harrison took over for Joey Porter at right outside linebacker last season and emerged as one of the top players on a unit that finished first in the NFL in total defense.

His best game came in November ,when Harrison had 3 1/2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception in the Steelers' 38-7 win over the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field.

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