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Harrison, Steelers won't remain silent on NFL's fines

| Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010

They've tried to go about it quietly — and that didn't work.

They tried to go about it the diplomatic way — and that didn't work, either.

Now, the Steelers and some top-named NFL players are dealing with what they believe are unfair, unjust and excessive fines in a proactive way — they are speaking out.

And nobody is off-limits, especially following James Harrison's fourth fine over the past two months for what seemingly was a legal hit put on Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick that cost the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year another $25,000.

Not the media, not NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and not even one of their own — NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.

Steelers veteran linebacker and defensive captain James Farrior called out Smith yesterday for not getting involved in the NFL's fine-happy state of mind that seems to be zeroing in on Harrison, who has been fined $125,000 this year.

"Where is DeMaurice Smith when all this is going on?" Farrior said. "He is supposed to be our leader. I haven't heard him one time. We are on our own right now. It is just one guy (Goodell) making all the rules up and doling out the fines. There is nothing we can do about it."

So the Steelers have decided to go on the offensive.

Normally reluctant to speak about the league and its decisions to fine players, Steelers players have decided to make their displeasures known to the public.

"You have to talk about it," Farrior said. "We can't just keep sitting here and taking it. Sooner or later somebody is going to have to say something. We can't just keep quiet the whole time and just keep letting them bend us over and give it to us."

Harrison has even talked to his agent, Bill Parise, about getting some outside help. Team player rep Ryan Clark called the NFLPA's senior regional director Jason Belser to ask for help with Harrison.

"I said, 'We have to do something. We need to stand behind him,'" Clark said. "I think we need to be more vocal about the situation."

Others have followed the Steelers' lead about expressing displeasure with how they are being treated.

"I think it's bull the way they are doing it," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said on "Mike & Mike In The Morning" on ESPN Radio.

Baltimore Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs also didn't hold back his thoughts about how the league is handing out fines, especially to Harrison.

"It is just getting ridiculous," Suggs said. "I think there is definitely some injustice."

What the Steelers are looking for is clarity.

One week, Harrison was flagged for hitting Jason Campbell with his full body weight but was not fined. He was fined for hitting Drew Brees with his facemask; was fined for hitting what the NFL termed a defenseless receiver in Mohamed Massaquoi; and was fined for hitting Fitzpatrick with the crown of his helmet.

"I think the NFLPA can be instrumental in getting us that clarity," Clark said.

Harrison thinks the NFLPA might not be able to help, either.

"It's starting to look like it's OK to cheat, it's OK to fight, but if you hit somebody too hard, we're going to fine you a whole bunch more than the other two," Harrison said. "Maybe it's because I play for the Steelers, who knows?"

Harrison, as well as others in the locker room, believes that speaking out to the media is the only way things will start to change.

"The media, y'all control what goes on, y'all are like puppet masters, and y'all control the puppets," Harrison said. "If y'all say that they're doing wrong, and the media starts to say this more and more, then I think things will start to change. Until y'all do something about it I don't think nothing's going to change."

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