Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has been suspended one game by the NFL for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy on Thursday night.
Harrison has requested an expedited hearing of his appeal. “We will ask for an expedited hearing because we're dealing with a suspension,” Harrison’s agent, Bill Parise, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He indicated that Harrison would not play in the Steelers’ game Monday night against San Francisco. Harrison was not fined for the hit, but will be docked one game check, which amounts to roughly $73,500.
“Thank you to all my fans and supporters,” Harrison said on Twitter, “I’m just going to move on from here and get ready for my next game.”
Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin did not come to Harrison’s defense. “He hit him, he hit him illegally, he has to suffer the consequences,” Tomlin said.
In a statement on the Steelers’ website, Tomlin said: “We are disappointed, we are disappointed for James because we know quite frankly how hard he has worked to play within the rules. He has worked extremely hard to adjust his game. Unfortunately the incident happened. Of course it was a penalty. We have to be accountable for that; he has to be accountable for that. We accept the judgment rendered by the league office and we’ll move forward.”
Harrison defended the play Monday and after Thursday’s game. “Well, [McCoy] took off running with [the ball],” Harrison said Monday, “and at the last second he, like, chucked and ducked.”
Harrison was flagged for roughing the passer, but the suspension came down because he was fined four times for illegal hits on quarterbacks in 2009 and 2010 and twice for unnecessary roughness. His fines totaled $125,000 last season.
McCoy suffered a concussion on the play and returned to the game after two plays, a decision by the Browns that angered his father and could lead to the addition of an independent neurologist at games to evaluate players. . Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive committee, supports the change.
“The one thing I know is that when it comes to this issue, players, coaches, and team medical personnel struggle in the heat of the moment,” Fujita told SI’s Peter King and Pro Football Talk in an email Sunday. “This has been an ongoing problem for years. The game-day sideline is intense, there’s a lot going on, and we can’t always count on everyone to make the most responsible decisions.”
Browns Coach Pat Shurmur said that McCoy, who did not practice Monday, did not exhibit concussion symptions until after the game, but McCoy’s father disagreed.
“He never should've gone back in the game,” Brad McCoy said. “He was basically out after the hit. You could tell by the ridigity of his body as he was laying there.
“There were a lot of easy symptoms that should've told them he had a concussion. He was nauseated and he didn't know who he was. From what I could see, they didn't test him for a concussion on the sidelines. They looked at his [left] hand.”
Related: The review process for on-the-field violations