´ Steel Curtain Rising: James Harrison Offers Mea Culpa Via Facebook

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Friday, July 15, 2011

James Harrison Offers Mea Culpa Via Facebook

Credit James Harrison with another talent.

When he sticks his foot deep into his mouth, he at least is smart enough to attempt to extract it.

Courtesy of John Stephens from Behind the Steel Curtain, I am here posting Silverback's response to the earthshaking rant which will appear in Men's Journal on Friday of this week. (Note Stephens has reposted Harrison' statement on Facebook.)

First, Harrison addressed his comments directed towards his teammates:
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.

After duly apologizing to his teammates, Harrison address his other comments:
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.

Analysis

A lot was said about Harrison's incendiary comments. Yours truly compared James Harrison to Greg Lloyd, who, his status as a personal favorite aside, may have done his share to divide the locker room.

Gerry Dulac wrote extensively on PG Plus, roundly taking Harrison to task and suggested that punishment was in order.

The best article I read was one on ESPN by Ashley Fox, who rightly said that Harrison above all made himself look like an idiot.

Now Harrison is attempting to make it right.

Don't Be Too Quick to Discount His Excuse

His first line of defense was time-honored "they took my words out of context."

Athletes always opt for this route. Just just because it seems like the easy out, does not mean we should discount the excuse, and those with person experience with the press might understand why.

Back in 1991 I testified in front of the Montgomery County Council. It was a sparsely attended event, so much that the council member (and future council president and county executive) chairing it feel asleep.

To my great surprise a week or so later someone called me to about the article that the Montgomery Gazette hard written on my testimony. There was one problem. The reporter never bothered to interview me and a good deal of my testimony was taken out of context.

On a larger scale in 1996 I volunteered for a year at People Working Cooperatively in Cincinnati, Ohio (a phenomenal organization serving a great city, Bengals not withstanding). A few months prior to my service there the agency had been the subject of a municipal investigation.

The Cincinnati press descended on PWC's headquarters and interviewed its leaders. I was told by people whom I know an trust that while on site the reporters made ever effort to take a sympathetic tone, only to savage the agency once they got back to the studio.

I've known others who've brushed with the press and had similar experiences.

If you think about it, it is easy to imagine Harrison making comments about Rashard Mendenhall and Ben Roethlisberger in a light hearted or even off hand way, perhaps even with a playful tone. Of course all of that would get lost the instant they went into print.

Harrison's comments about Goodell are another matter. From 6000 miles away those still "sound" as if they're from the heart.

Silverback Should have Known Better

The bottom line is that Harrison should have known better. He is not a rookie and has been in the spotlight enough to know that something like this would happen.

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