The NFL has suspended Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison for one game for his vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colts McCoy, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. However, Harrison does plan to appeal the suspension, Schefter reports.
Harrison, 33, is the first player to get suspended under the NFL’s enhanced enforcement of player safety violations. There is little doubt the league is trying to set a strong precedent on how it will discipline repeat offenders when it comes to player safety.
Though this is just Harrison’s first personal foul of the season, he’s been the poster child when it comes to controversial hits. Spanning the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Harrison was fined for four illegal hits against quarterbacks. Also, Harrison was fined twice for unnecessary roughness calls during that period. Again, over the past two seasons, the 2008 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year has been fined a league-high six times.
According to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, “The 2011 League Policies for Players manual states:” “Players who were fined for violations in 2009 or 2010, and whose fines were either partially or fully upheld, will be considered second and/or repeat offenders under this policy.”
The NFL has stated that Harrison may not practice this week or be at the team facility or Heinz Field for any team activities during his suspension. He is set to be reinstated on Dec. 20.
Harrison has the right to appeal the suspension in the next three days under the new collective bargaining agreement.
This past Monday, Harrison told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he didn’t believe he would be suspended.
“I don’t think I have anything to worry about,” Harrison said.
Harrison has reiterated that he doesn’t believe his hit on McCoy was illegal because McCoy was scrambling near the line of scrimmage, making him a ball carrier, not a passer. And there are those that argue McCoy was still a passer because he threw the ball before getting clocked by Harrison.