You will not be shocked to hear that former Pittsburgh Steelers James Harrison is unrepentant about one of his most infamous helmet-to-helmet hits. What you might not expect, though, is Harrison saying Steelers coach Mike Tomlin gave him ... something after the hit.
During an appearance on the “Going Deep” podcast, Harrison was asked about the biggest fine he received during his career. His answer was the $75,000 the NFL took for a 2010 hit on Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.
Then Harrison said that Tomlin handed him an envelope after the NFL levied the fine.
James Harrison’s story about Mike Tomlin and an envelope
“Listen, everything I love, on my daddy’s grave, I hit that man with about, max, 50 percent of what I had, and I just hit because I wanted him to let loose of the ball. If I had known they were going to fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him. Dude, I’m telling you, 75?
“I ain’t going to 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 going to say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.”
It’s not hard to guess what might have been in the alleged envelope, though you also have to consider the source we’re dealing with here.
Of course, what Harrison doesn’t mention is that it wasn’t the force of the hit that was primarily responsible for his fine, but the placement. Harrison hit Massaquoi’s helmet directly with his helmet, resulting in a concussion for the receiver.
Harrison insisted at the time that the hit was legal and he was not aiming for Massaquoi’s helmet, though his repeat offender status with the NFL didn’t do him any favors.
Tomlin reportedly agreed with Harrison’s assessment while talking with reporters.
Steelers owner denies James Harrison’s claims
In response to Harrison’s story, Steelers owner Art Rooney II said he is “very certain nothing like this ever happened” and questioned why Harrison would make the claim.
Reached out to #Steelers regarding James Harrison saying on a podcast coach Mike Tomlin “handed me an envelope” after NFL fined Harrison $75,000 in 2010 for big hit on former #Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi. This is the response: pic.twitter.com/WioCansaFX— Nate Ulrich (@ByNateUlrich) May 14, 2020
Rooney’s firm denial is understandable given the NFL might be a tad touchy about coaches rewarding or reimbursing players after illegal hits given the New Orleans Saints’ bounty scandal that rocked the league more than a decade ago.
The league declined comment on the matter Thursday, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.
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