Steelers' Harrison apologizes for criticisms
Steelers linebacker James Harrison apologized Thursday night for criticisms he made about teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall — and even some about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
"The handful of words that were used and heavily publicized yesterday were pulled out of a long conversation, and the context was lost," Harrison wrote on his Facebook page. "Obviously, I would never say that it was all Ben's or Rashard's fault that we lost the Super Bowl.
"What I do apologize for and take full responsibility for is for speaking in such a candid manner to someone outside the team."
In the August issue of Men's Journal, to hit news stands today, Harrison took shots at Roethlisberger for throwing two interceptions in Super Bowl XLV — "... stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain't that, and you know it, man," he said — and he described Mendenhall as a "fumble machine."
He called Goodell a "devil" and "crook" and said, "If that man was on fire and I had to (urinate) to put him out, I wouldn't do it."
Harrison has been at odds with Goodell since the NFL's crackdown on helmet-to-helmet hits last season.
In the story, obtained by the Tribune-Review last night, the All-Pro linebacker also verbally attacked Goodell's top assistants executive vice president Ray Anderson and director of football operations Merton Hanks.
Harrison referred to Anderson as "another dummy who never played a down" and said Hanks, a former Pro Bowl safety with the San Francisco 49ers, "needs to be ashamed because he played D before, but he was never was what you'd call a real hitter."
The comments were in reference to a meeting Harrison had with the NFL's top brass during the season last year.
Harrison also called Goodell a gay slur.
"I also need to make clear that the comment about Roger Goodell was not intended to be derogatory against gay people in any way," he posted on Facebook. "It was careless use of a slang word, and I apologize to all who were offended by the remark. I am not a homophobic bigot, and I would never advocate intolerance of gay people."
In the story, Harrison referred to the Steelers as having "too much force, too much swag, and are predominately black," which makes them a target by the NFL.
Other excerpts include:
> When Harrison learned that he was fined $75,000 for the hit on Cleveland receiver Mohamed Massaquoi via the ESPN crawl while at his Wexford home, he jumped to his feet and said, "(Expletive) y'all. I quit if you are going to fine me for that legal hit."
> Harrison said he seriously contemplated retirement after getting fined.
"Spoke to my player rep and my agent, said, 'That's it, I'm done. What papers do I have to sign to retire today?' If my agent hadn't have said, 'You'll have to pay back six mill,' I'd've been out the game and not looked back."
> Even after the fines levied on the Steelers kept coming, Harrison said defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau told the defense, "Don't change a (darn) thing. You're doing it the way we do it on this team.
There is also a brief mention of an altercation between Harrison and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians in which Harrison reportedly almost punched out Arians.
Harrison said his controversial comments have overshadowed the purpose of the interview — to shed more light on player safety.
"If player safety is the NFL's main concern, as they say it is, they are not going about it in an effective manner," he wrote. "There's nothing about extending the season or issuing exorbitant fines on defensive players that makes any shift toward the prevention of injury to players.
"As far as the character and reputation hits I may suffer as a result of my comments in the article, I'll take those hits and more if it brings increased attention to the re-examination and installation of rules and regulations that would create a REAL impact on player safety."
Steelers linebacker James Harrison's statements as it appeared Thursday night on Facebook in regard to his interview with Men's Journal:
I'll start by offering my apologies for some of the words that I said during the four days in May that Men's Journal was invited to my house to discuss what the NFL has recently been portraying as their attempts at 'player safety' rules and regulations, and to cover my everyday workout routine.
I did make comments about my teammates when I was talking about the emotional Super Bowl loss, but the handful of words that were used and heavily publicized yesterday were pulled out of a long conversation and the context was lost. Obviously, I would never say that it was all Ben's or Rashard's fault that we lost the Super Bowl. That would be ridiculous. Both Ben and Rashard are great players and great teammates. Clearly the entire team bears responsibility for the loss, me included. It was a team effort and a team loss. My teammates know me well, and hopefully understand the things I said were not meant to accuse them of the loss. We all have discussed several things that went wrong in the Super Bowl since that day. What I do apologize for and take full responsibility for is for speaking in such a candid manner to someone outside the team.
I also need to make clear that the comment about Roger Goodell was not intended to be derogatory against gay people in any way. It was careless use of a slang word and I apologize to all who were offended by the remark. I am not a homophobic bigot, and I would never advocate intolerance of gay people.
As far as the photo that was shown on air yesterday, collecting guns is a hobby of mine, and I advocate the responsible use of firearms. I believe in the right to bear arms. I like to go to the shooting range. I like to hunt. I like to fish. I could just as easily have posed with my fishing poles but it obviously wouldn't be an interesting picture for the magazine. I am not promoting gun violence by posing for that photo. There are also other photos in the magazine story that were not shown on air yesterday — including me with my sons, with my mom and as a kid.
Unfortunately, the above items and other comments have detracted from the original purpose of the story — a position I have been advocating for some time now. If player safety is the NFL's main concern, as they say it is, they are not going about it in an effective manner. There's nothing about extending the season or issuing exorbitant fines on defensive players that makes any shift toward the prevention of injury to players.
I believe that the league may have been feeling increasing pressure about injuries and concussions last year, and that they panicked and put rules in place that weren't fully thought out. I'm not advocating more flags and fines, I'm just saying that the current rules are not completely fair, and I don't believe in the way that the league is handling their position as overseer of the NFL and the well-being of its players.
As far as the character and reputation hits I may suffer as a result of my comments in the article, I'll take those hits and more if it brings increased attention to the re-examination and installation of rules and regulations that would create a REAL impact on player safety.
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