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The Early Lead
Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 12/14/2011

James Harrison: Is a one-game suspension warranted?


James Harrison drew a one-game suspension after his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colt McCoy last Thursday. (Justin K. Aller / Getty Images)
The NFL slapped Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison with a one-game suspension for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy and most people — sports writers as well as sports fans — agreed that it was warranted.

Harrison has asked for an expedited hearing of his appeal and that, according to ESPN, is scheduled for 2 p.m. today. “I can't go back to work till Tuesday, looks like I'll be in the gym twice a day,” Harrison tweeted.

Part of the reason for Harrison’s suspension is his history — he has had five illegal hits on quarterbacks over the last threr years and was fined $125,000 in 2010. The play Thursday received further attention because of how poorly the Browns handled it.

“What he did to McCoy ... has to be punished — and another hit to Harrison’s wallet (or another slap on the wrist) just isn’t going to get the job done,” former player Matt Bowen wrote at National Football Post.


Colt McCoy, post-collision. (Gene J. Puskar / AP)
“The concussion issue in the NFL is real. There are players that will have lasting effects from head injuries in their 30s, 40s and into the later stages of their lives because of the violence we watch every week. And the NFL doesn’t have an answer for it. Sure, they will give you the PR stance on concussions, but they have no idea how to control them.

“This is one way to handle it. Clean it up. Just like the NFL did with Ndamukong Suh after after the situation on Thanksgiving that lacked some professionalism.

“Take the pads away for a week (or two if necessary) and sit players down. Let them know that they will have to alter the way they play the game when it comes to contact at the point of attack. And if they don’t change, then sit them down again and again until they learn.”

Chris Collinsworth felt differently about Harrison’s suspension, as did Herman Edwards, but readers of The Early Lead were fine with it. A sampling:

dwelkinor: I mostly agree. You never know when someone will pull a Sidney Crosby and be out for a year. That said, Harrison is not only a repeat offender, he's unrepentent. He doesn't think what he did was wrong! He should be out until he shows the league that he understands why his tackling technique is unjustifiable and that he is changing to make his hits safer.

He said that McCoy “chucked and ducked,” but A) McCoy didn't duck, watch the replay; and B) how would you know James, you weren't looking at the QB when you hit him.

whythat: Clearly a deliberate helmet to helmet hit — Harrison is an obvious repeat offender and the suspension is justified but is too short — a possible penalty for this type of hit is that the suspension lasts as long as the injured player is incapacitated — let the punishment fit the crime.

nbride30: Can't stand this guy. He clearly lowers his head over and over again scrambling peoples' brains, and he has no remorse. His defiant attitude is at least worth a 1 game suspension. I really believe he should have been out for the rest of the regular season. I think his stuff is worse than what Suh did. Let's go Goodell make a real stand with this guy!

lcruz1: How about this? Football teams should hire a known cut-man from boxing. Those guys see more concussions than anyone else in sports! They can tell you if someone is out after a hit better than a neurosurgeon.

buffyj63: It was just stupid to put McCoy back in the game. Other teams hold players out when there's ANY question of concussion-like symptoms — why don't the Browns?

password1111: Big Steeler fan here, but this guy needs to be put away for the rest of the season. No real football fan wants people knocked out the game.

MORE

Brad McCoy: Quarterback’s father rips Browns

The Browns’ side: Browns Coach Pat Shurmur on letting McCoy play

NFL looks at hit: Play draws attention

NFL:  The process for on-the-field violations for fines, suspension, reviews

Thanksgiving stomp: Ndamukong Suh suspended two games

By  |  11:30 AM ET, 12/14/2011

 
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