James Harrison will not be on the field Monday night when the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the San Francisco 49ers after the NFL denied his appeal of a one-game suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.
The NFL cited Harrison’s history of dangerous hits — one that now includes five helmet-to-helmet hits on quarterbacks — in its decision. Harrison will become the first player suspended under the league’s new crack down on hits to the head, which followed another Steelers-Browns game last season during which Harrison had two helmet-to-helmet hits.
McCoy, who was knocked out of last Thursday’s game for only two plays, has not practiced this week as he deals with headaches caused by a concussion sustained during the hit.
On Wednesday Browns team president Mike Holmgren said the team did not give their quarterback a concussion test on the sideline before allowing him to re-enter the game.
Harrison, who has been outspoken about his disapproval of the league’s new enforcement of helmet-to-helmet hits, was fined $125,000 for hits in 2010.
“From what I understand, once the quarterback leaves the pocket, he’s considered a runner,” Harrison said last Friday. “All the defenseless(ness) and liberties that a quarterback has in the pocket are gone and you can tackle him just as he’s a running back. The hit wasn’t late, so I really don’t understand why it was called.”
Seneca Wallace is expected to start for the Browns on Sunday while McCoy continues to recover.
Last week, McCoy’s father, Brad McCoy, ripped the Browns for allowing his son to return to the field following Harrison’s hit.
“He never should have gone back in the game,” McCoy said. “He was basically out after the hit. You could tell by the rigidity of his body as he was laying there.”
On Tuesday, representatives from the NFL and the players association met with the Browns to discuss their in-game treatment of McCoy.
More from Washington Post Sports:
Early Lead: Is Harrison’s one-game suspension warranted?
Tracee Hamilton: Vigilance needs to focus on protection as much as punishment