For years, Steelers linebacker James Harrison has found himself in the cross hairs of the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell. Harrison’s troubles with the league started with a nasty hit against Mohamed Massaquoi of the Cleveland Browns, in which his fine was issued after a midweek rules change. The fine was issued despite visual evidence that showed Massaquoi lowering his head into Harrison’s target zone, after it was too late for James to change direction. Of course at that point, it was still considered a legal hit, and Harrison showed no hesitation in voicing his displeasure. His protests not only seemed to make him a target of the league, but his teammates as well. Since then, Harrison has been fined multiple times and has made several trips to New York.
Now, a different battle awaits number 92, as the NFL wants to interview him, along with several other players, over alleged PED usage that was released in an Al Jezeera report. Even though the author of the story, Charles Sly, recanted it, the NFL still insists on pursuing their interviews with the players named in the story. As expected, James Harrison is challenging Roger Goodell head on, and is justified in doing so.
Harrison, who has never been shy about his feelings for Commissioner Roger Goodell, has met the league’s demands for an interview with some demands of his own.
With no credible information to go on, the NFL nonetheless wants to proceed with their “investigation”. With James Harrison’s history of outspoken refusal to be bullied by the NFL, it is not unreasonable to think that the league is using this now recanted report, and the other players involved, for an excuse to go after him one final time. The key to Harrison’s demands is his insistence that Goodell be present for the interview at his home. Under the threat of potential penalties for denying an interview with the league, which he is not, Harrison is simply stating that any interview will be done on his terms and on his turf. His message to Roger Goodell is loud and clear, I’m not going out on anyone’s terms other than my own, and if you want this interview, you have to come to me.
James Harrison did not become the most feared outside linebacker in the NFL, and an NFL defensive player of the year by backing down or compromising on anything. He succeeded because of his “Bull in a China Shop” mentality and work ethic. By making his own demands, Harrison is refusing to let Roger Goodell attempt to cheapen his career accomplishments, with a PED investigation that is based on little to no credible evidence. The other players, that have been named in Charles Sly’s concocted (then recanted) story, including recently retired Peyton Manning, would be wise to follow Harrison’s lead on this. An even wiser decision, however, would be for Roger Goodell to just drop the entire issue all together.
In what is likely Harrison’s last NFL season, he is only a few quarterback sacks away from being the Steelers all-time leader in that category. As wildly unpopular as the NFL Commissioner is to date, it would be extremely satisfying if Harrison’s stance on this issue helped play a role in possibly sacking Roger Goodell on his way out.