Players Recognize NFL's Hypocrisy

The NFL hasn't ruled on James Harrison's appeal, but it did rake in some money from his hit on Colt McCoy.

PITTSBURGH -- The NFL sold photos of a concussed Colt McCoy on its website on the same day it heard an appeal to lift the suspension handed to the guy who made that photo possible.

Ted Cottrell, who heard James Harrison's appeal, hasn't released his findings yet, but the league did take down the McCoy picture by the end of the day.

They didn't want to look like hypocrites, after all.

The Steelers on Wednesday tried to make sense of today's NFL, but were careful not to end up with the blackmarks that have clearly been placed next to Harrison's name throughout his last three seasons in the league.

The league's file on Harrison was the reason, according to a league statement, that Harrison was suspended for what arguably was a legal tackle of McCoy, who suddenly threw a pass after running in the open field.

The players, though, aren't fooled.

"He didn't stomp on nobody," reasoned cornerback Ike Taylor. "He didn't punch nobody in the private area."

Just last week Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour was fined only $30,000 for punching a player a year after sucker-punching Ben Roethlisberger in the face well after a whistle and in front of an official. Seymour was fined only $25,000 for that "hit."

"My problem with it all is the inconsistency," said defensive end Brett Keisel. "I think James is targeted just because of the player he is and his past playing the game, the penalties he's had in the past. But I think he's done great up to this point this year.

"The play in the game, it was a tough play. McCoy had the ball tucked, was running outside the pocket, and at the last second he jumped up and threw it. James just plays the game hard and sometimes there's helmet to helmet. Every single play on the line of scrimmage there's helmet to helmet. The things that go on in the trenches, they don't want to talk about that. They won't talk about how they cut Casey [Hampton] and the backside guys going at those legs. They don't want to talk about diving at the back of Ben's legs. That to me is dirty."

Harrison, of course, isn't allowed at the Steelers' practice facility for a week, but he told Jerome Bettis that he won't be able to change the way he plays. Bettis reported it on ESPN.

"I don't want him to change," said Taylor. "I definitely don't want that."

Even if it results in another suspension, and possibly missing a playoff game?

"I still don't want Deebo to change, regardless," Taylor said.

The players understand how Harrison's work ethic and quick-twitch striking ability and sudden impact have led to his tackling mistakes. They don't believe the "suits" in the league office understand the game in that way.

"There are no set rules to it," said safety Ryan Clark. "There's no real clarification on what will get you suspended, or what will get you fined a certain amount. It's really all left up to judgment so we have to continue to try to play within the rules, try to do the right thing, because it's a battle you really can't win. You can't fight it through the media. You can't fight it doing anything. The NFL's going to make the decision on who plays and who doesn't and we have to try to find a way to play within the rules and still be able to maintain a physical presence out there."

Taylor offered up a solution for all defensive players.

"Instead of hitting high, hit low," Taylor suggested. "Instead of doing concussions, blow ACLs out. Then what?"

Then the league might sell those photos, too. And then commence with a new set of blacklists.

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