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NFL denies James Harrison's appeal

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By Scott Brown
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011

The NFL's decision to uphold James Harrison's one-game suspension came as no surprise to Steelers free safety Ryan Clark.

Clark reiterated Friday that the Steelers have to "play within the rules." He also directed a few pointed comments at the league, which banished Harrison for a helmet-to-helmet hit that left Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy with a concussion.

"They're trying to make players that play with a physical nature extinct," said Clark, the Steelers' union representative. "They want everybody to average 35 points a game, and we have to find a way for that not to happen. Defense still matters to us here."

Harrison won't play Monday night in San Francisco after Ted Cottrell denied his appeal of the suspension. Cottrell or Art Shell rule on league discipline appeals, and they are appointed and paid jointly by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

The NFL announced Cottrell's decision yesterday morning. Harrison later posted on Twitter, "17 games, 1000+ snaps, 100+ tackles, 12+ sacks and 2 forces fumbles since my last incident and I get a suspension for a football play!"

Harrison, who was fined $100,000 last season, had not been disciplined by the league before his hit on McCoy.

McCoy has been ruled out for the Browns' game Sunday at Arizona.

"To me, it was a between-the-whistle play that they're making an example out of him for," Clark said. "We just have to continue playing and roll with the punches."

Asked if he is disappointed that Harrison put himself in position to be suspended, Clark said, "Heck no. That's ridiculous. It's the fact that he has to sit home and watch us play through no fault of his own."

Harrison is not allowed to attend the Steelers' game or use their practice facility until Tuesday. The four-time Pro Bowler is subject to a lengthier suspension if he again violates the rule prohibiting illegal hits on quarterbacks.

"I'm sure he'll try to be more careful and play within the guidelines of the game," Steelers linebacker James Farrior said. "Hopefully he has a good mindset when he comes back, and he's just ready to go."

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