The Steelers needed this like they needed another Ben Roethlisberger suspension.
Here they are at 4-1, back in first place, with Roethlisberger back under center, and all of a sudden a couple of fines and a new get-tough enforcement policy from the NFL have created another unnecessary tumult.
It's a league-wide issue, to be certain. But because James Harrison was one of those fined by the NFL for unacceptable contact with an opponent, it hits especially close to home.
That's where Harrison was on Wednesday afternoon rather than at the Steelers' South Side practice facility after having been sent home following a morning meeting with Mike Tomlin.
"I thought it was beneficial to him and us if I give him a little time to cool off and give him the day," Tomlin said. "I excused him at that time.
"I'm sure he'll be back in the building and ready to play football tomorrow."
That apparently wasn't the case on Wednesday, which means the Steelers have already been adversely affected by something they never should have allowed to mess with their mojo.
That apparently wasn't the case on Tuesday, either, when Harrison contemplated retirement on a national radio show.
"This is a very emotional thing for James," Tomlin said. "He's passionate about the game of football. It bothers him, maybe, that he's being perceived as a dirty player. He doesn't desire to be, simply wants to play the game and play it well."
If that's the case, then get over it and do so.
Harrison got fined; it's not the first time.
Suspensions could be forthcoming the next time; whatever, they haven't yet.
Suck it up.
Deal with it.
Instead, Steelers players who are normally cooperative to a fault either declined comment on hits and Harrison on Wednesday (Larry Foote said he had no choice, "head man's orders") or lamented their sudden "in some situations unfair" (Ryan Clark's words) lot in life, and Harrison's, to the extreme.
"We're just praying for him," Ryan Clark said, "and also the guys that were injured. That's the big thing; you gotta focus on those guys, too."
Praying for Harrison?
The Steelers aren't the only ones who have suddenly seemingly taken their eye off the ball. In Chicago, Brian Urlacher was quoted by Yahoo.com as follows: "Let's make it the NFFL – the National Flag Football League."
If Troy Polamalu felt vindicated after the fact, he kept such feelings to himself. Polamalu had likened the NFL to a "pansy game" in 2008.
"I gave you my story two years ago," he said. "I'm out of the spotlight now."
The good news is the Steelers overcame a spate of fines and their subsequent outrage back then well enough to win the Super Bowl.
The bad news is they're making this year's quest more difficult, more complicated than it needs to be. And in a season that's already been defined to an extent by potential distraction, why court more?
"Man, I'm paid to deal with distractions," Tomlin scoffed.
He'll earn his money this week.