An Ex-Steeler’s Recount of a Hard Hit Triggers Bountygate Comparisons

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Harrison, showing on Barstool Sports’s “Going Deep” podcast, advised his former Pittsburgh teammate Willie Colon that Tomlin — who nonetheless coaches the Steelers — slipped him an envelope quickly after the high quality was levied.

“Dude, I’m telling you — 75,” Harrison stated, referencing the quantity of the high quality. “And I ain’t gonna lie to you: When that happened, right, the G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that. I ain’t gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.”

Harrison recounted the story unprompted, after Colon requested him concerning the heftiest high quality he absorbed throughout his 15 N.F.L. seasons.

“Listen, on everything I love, on my daddy’s grave, I hit that man with about max 50 percent of what I had,” Harrison stated of Massaquoi. “And I just hit him because I wanted him to let loose of the ball. If I had knew they was gonna fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him.”

Harrison’s high quality was later decreased to $50,000. Although Harrison didn’t explicitly say what the envelope contained, the mere insinuation that Tomlin compensated him in any approach evoked comparability to the so-called Bountygate scandal, during which the New Orleans Saints’ teaching workers was decided over a three-year interval to have supplied payouts to defensive gamers who injured opponents, in response to a league investigation. The Saints’ coach, Sean Payton, didn’t pay gamers himself, however the league suspended him for a yr, partially, for not stopping the system after he was made conscious of it.

It is unclear whether or not the league will talk about the matter with Harrison and Tomlin; a spokesman for the N.F.L. declined to touch upon Friday. League rules stipulate that groups and its members are prohibited from paying a participant’s high quality.

In an announcement, Steelers President Art Rooney II stated he was optimistic that Harrison’s allegations are unfaithful. “I am very certain nothing like this ever happened,” Rooney stated. “I have no idea why James would make a comment like this, but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”

Harrison on Friday posted an announcement to his Instagram account that seemingly walked again his earlier remark. “Mike T. Has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY!” it learn.

Harrison, together with the Hall of Fame security Troy Polamalu, was the snarling face of the Steelers’ protection within the 2000s, after they received two Super Bowls. The league’s defensive participant of the yr in 2008, Harrison developed a repute for administering violent hits that teetered on the boundaries of legality. After the hit on Massaquoi in 2010, Harrison and Tomlin argued that it was clear and didn’t advantage a high quality. Tomlin, on the time, additionally stated he favored harder penalties and rule modifications to enhance participant security.

“I think what took place with us back in 2011 in so many ways was a sham, and yet there wasn’t a lot we could do with it,” Payton stated on 105.7 FM in Baltimore. “The players were vindicated, but from a league or coaching standpoint, there is no union, there is no representation.”

He added, “That’ll be something that’s tucked away or under the rug at Park Avenue. They’ll look into it briefly. Listen, don’t get me started on that. I lost $6 million in salary, and honestly it was something that I’ll never truly get over because I know how it was handled and how it was run and the reasons behind it. That’s just the truth.”