By now the whole world knows what James Harrison told Willie and Cheah, because it was the biggest story in the NFL yesterday. But ICYMI, he was talking about this hit on Mohamed Massaquoi. By way of context, it came in 2010 just as the CTE discussion was heating up. And a week after a slew of egregious hits around the league, not the least of which was Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather trying to decapitate Todd Heap of the Ravens. So the NFL decided to go into an all-out crackdown to overreact to the bad reaction they were getting. And it was in that environment that Harrison delivered this bone-cracker:
And here's his exact quote.
"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. If i had knew they was gonna fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him.’ Dude, I’m telling you, 75? 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.”
Let's review. An NFL veteran of 14 years, a two-time Super Bowl champion, five-time Pro Bowler, twice All Pro and the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year says his head coach paid him for a hit that got him fined $75,000. So this is, by anyone's definition, a potential major scandal that needs to be looked into. This calls for immediate action. To use the word Roger Goodell's programmers coded into his algorithm to repeat most often, this calls for transparency. An independent, third party investigation to get to the truth so that we know the facts and reveal what actually happened so we can ensure the integrity of the game for our fans, and all that. No matter the cost.
Yeah, about that …
Comment? What comment? Why comment? James Harrison's agent says it never happened. The venerable Art Rooney II says it never happened. And since when do player agents and guys who inherited NFL franchises from their more capable fathers ever not tell the truth? So what more do we need?
Sean Payton needs more. Bless him. The guy who had to sit out a year of Drew Brees' prime because he was convicted by Der Kommisar for this very crime - which he didn't commit - is having none of this bullshit.
Saints Wire - Payton made an appearance on 105.7 The Fan with Jason La Canfora [and] he’s not expecting an investigation like the one his organization was subjected to now that the Steelers are drawing scrutiny.
Payton said in his radio spot, “If people are waiting for the league to investigate that, they shouldn’t hold their breath. I think what took place with us back in (2012) in so many ways was a sham, and yet there wasn’t a lot we could do with it.” …
From Payton’s perspective, the spotlight put on his team was a one-off opportunity for the NFL to grandstand about player safety and make a scapegoat out of his team.
Payton continued, acknowledging that he has his own ax to grind with the higher-ups in New York: “I would be shocked (if the league investigates Pittsburgh). That’ll be something that’s tucked away under the rug (in the NFL league offices) at Park Avenue. They’ll look into it briefly.
“Listen, don’t get me started on that. I lost $6 million in salary, and honestly it was something that I’ll never truly get over because I know how it was handled and how it was run and the reasons behind it. That’s just the truth.”
Few people in the world understand the NFL's brand of institutional justice the way Sean Payton does. He's lived Ginger Satan's system of punishing the innocent, exonerating the guilty and not investing the clearly suspect to suit his evil purposes. When he's not treating misdemeanors like felonies and capital crimes like parking violations, he's screwing over whoever he has to in the name of making himself look like he's something other than a Disney's Hall of Presidents-like automoton who makes $40 million a year.
And of course Payton is 100% correct. The Steelers are in a protected class. That organization has what Sci-Fi nerds call "plot armor." They can't be touched. At best, a league spokeman will offer some vague assurance they're looking into it. And anytime the question comes up, the stock answer will be "we can't comment on an ongoing investigation" and that will continue until the next ice age.
But as for Sean Payton and me, #WeBelieveDeebo.