Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison claimed in a May 7 interview that coach Mike Tomlin gave him an envelope after his 2010 illegal hit on Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.
Harrison was handed a $75,000 fine for unsportsmanlike conduct after the hit that gave Massaquoi a concussion. While the league later reduced the fine to $50,000, it was still a hefty punishment.
But in an interview on Willie Colon’s podcast, “Going Deep,” Harrison hinted that coach Tomlin rewarded him for the hit.
“Dude, I’m telling you,” Harrison said on the May 7 podcast. “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.”
Of course, the implication is that Tomlin gave Harrison an envelope full of cash. There has been much speculation about NFL coaches giving players secret cash rewards to hit opponents especially hard.
Harrison recounted the fine he got from the league and insisted he’d have hit even harder if he knew he would get such a hefty fine.
“Listen, on everything I love, on my daddy’s grave, I hit that man with about 50 percent of what I had, and I just hit him because I wanted him to let loose of the ball,” Harrison added. “If I had knew they was gonna fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him.”
The team spoke up quickly to deny Harrison’s charge of a secret payoff.
“I am very certain nothing like this ever happened,” Steelers owner Art Rooney II said in a statement released Thursday. “I have no idea why James would make a comment like this, but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”
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
Harrison’s advisor and former agent, Bill Parise, also spoke out to knock the player’s claims down, ESPN reported.
“Absolutely not,” Parise said. “Never happened. I would have known that. It didn’t happen. James and I are still together. We were really close during our 18 years. He would have said something along the way.”
Ultimately, Harrison tried to backtrack from the comments a little by saying there was no “bounty” system for hard hits during his time with the Steelers.
Harrison jumped to his Instagram account to explain what happened n that game in 2010.
“Wow, y’all really comparing what I said to BOUNTYGATE?!? Mike T. Has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY! I” Harrison said on Friday.
Harrison went on to point out that he was not penalized during the game itself for the hit, and the fine came later after the league was pressured to do something about the hit on Massaquoi.
Harrison took a swipe at the NFL, saying, “The league was getting pressure because the first concussion lawsuits were starting and they had to look like they cared about player safety all of a sudden.”
The player went on to note that the league was selling action photos of that very hit for $55 and featured the play in a video compilation of “NFL’s greatest hits,” before the fine was levied.
“When the league had to start pretending like they cared about player safety they took all those things down off their website, and they started fining guys ridiculous amounts for the same plays they used to profit off of,” Harrison wrote.
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Wow y'all really comparing what I said to BOUNTYGATE?!? Mike T. Has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY! If you knew the full story of what happened back then you'd know that BS fine for a Legal Play wasn't even penalized during the game. The league was getting pressure because the first concussion lawsuits were starting and they had to look like they cared about player safety all of a sudden. Before that they had been SELLING a photo of THAT SAME PLAY FOR $55 on the NFL website with other videos of the NFL'S GREATEST HITS that the league Profited On back then. When the league had to start pretending like they cared about player safety they took all those things down off their website and they started fining guys ridiculous amounts for the same plays they used to profit off of. EVERYBODY knew it – even these same media people and all the fans that were sending money to me and the team to cover the fine. AGAIN AT NO TIME did Mike T. EVER suggest anybody hurt anybody or that they'd be rewarded for anything like that. GTFOH with that BS!!! #receipts
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