Monday, October 25, 2010

Why Rodney Harrison's thoughts on dirty play should be ignored

Since when did Rodney Harrison(notes) become the moral authority of dirty play in football? To read Mike Florio's ode to his NBC colleague, in which he basically canonizes the ex-NFL star, you'd think that the dirtiest player of the past 15 years had turned into Ghandi:

NBC's Rodney Harrison, who won two Super Bowls with the Patriots and played before that with the Chargers as part of a 15-year NFL career, helped shine a light on the value of suspensions to getting helmet-to-helmet hits out of the game with his comments during this week's Football Night in America, Sunday Night Football, and in various videos available at

Harrison was quoted extensively by numerous media outlets throughout the day on Monday, and ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Monday night that Harrison's perspective directly influenced Commissioner Roger Goodell's decision to take the matter seriously after multiple big hits during the Week Six games.

It took Rodney Harrison babbling on "Sunday Night Football" to alert Roger Goodell that player concussions were a serious matter? 

Harrison believes that suspensions -- and the threat of suspensions -- will get the message across. "Fines are a cost of doing business," Harrison said, "but when a guy loses a game check and isn't available for his team, that hurts."

Does it really? Because in 2002, Harrison was suspended one game for a helmet to helmet hit on Jerry Rice. Losing that game check (about $111,000) and not being there for his team seemed to have zero affect on the safety's dirty play. In seven remaining games that season, Harrison drew two personal fouls. Over the next six years he bolstered his reputation as the dirtiest player in football when with the Patriots. What did that suspension hurt, exactly?

Harrison said that he's troubled by the intensity of many of the hits exchanged by today's players. "I'm so happy I'm not playing anymore," he said. "If I'm cringing from some of these hits, what does that tell you?"

This is coming from a guy who said the following last year: "Tom Brady, if you're listening, take off the skirt and put on some slacks. Toughen up." From a guy who said his mission was to protect the league from "going soft"? Which is it, Rodney? Toughen up or fine and suspend everyone for being too tough?

There's great value in ex-players speaking out against concussions and dirty hits. Playing hard in your 20s doesn't invalidate you from looking back upon it later in life with regret. I'm just baffled that Rodney Harrison is the spokesman for this now. He never changed during his career, despite over $200,000 in fines and two suspensions. Now that he's 20 months removed from the NFL he's had a sudden revelation that football is dangerous? It's the old "do as I say, not as I do," technique.

I don't buy it. Rodney Harrison is smart. He knows what to say in order to get attention. During his career he used to tell reporters that after he retired he wanted to become an NFL official. Get it? Dirty player becomes rule-abiding referee. What a great story. He's doing the same thing here. Harrison is playing the role of the reformed bad boy because he knows that will keep him in the spotlight. What he says may be correct, but he's saying it for all the wrong reasons.

Related: Rodney Harrison

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