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Harrison suspended for one game

Posted Dec 13, 2011

One day after linebacker James Harrison said he didn’t think his hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy deserved a suspension, the National Football League thought differently.

Harrison received a one-game suspension from the NFL for what was ruled a helmet-to-helmet hit on McCoy in the Steelers 14-3 win over the Browns at Heinz Field last Thursday night.

“We received word from the league office this morning that he will receive a one-game suspension,” said Coach Mike Tomlin during his weekly press conference Tuesday. “We’ll accept that of course. 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, the first player in 25 years to be suspended by the NFL for a tackle on the field, will be suspended for the Steelers Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers. He is not permitted to practice with the team or be at the team’s facility until he is reinstated on December 20.

According to Harrison’s agent, Bill Parise, the linebacker will appeal the suspension. Tomlin said he does not have any sense of what the outcome of that will be.

“I don’t have enough knowledge of the process to give an educated opinion in that regard,” said Tomlin. “I don’t know what the appeals process is, who he will be appealing to, and so forth. I don’t know the answer to that.”

In the meantime the Steelers must prepare for the 49ers without Harrison in the plans.

“From a planning standpoint, from a coach’s standpoint, from a team standpoint the information we received this morning we have to prepare that he is not going to play,” said Tomlin. “That is what we are doing.

“We’ll move forward from this. It is our intention and it’s always been our intention to play within the rules. Things happen during the course of play. We’ll move forward. James will move forward. It’s an appropriate time to do that if you look at what we are facing here this week in terms of the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football on the road.”

Harrison was suspended because he is considered by the NFL to be a repeat offender. He was fined four times in 2009 and 2010 combined for hits on quarterbacks, as well as being fined twice for unnecessary roughness. Tomlin said that Harrison has tried to adjust the way he plays the game since those incidents, but the hit was an illegal one.

“There were some interesting circumstances,” said Tomlin. “Of course the quarterback was out of the pocket. He had tucked the ball. He had hurt us running pretty good to that point in the game.

“But really all of those things are irrelevant. He hit him. He hit him illegally, and he has to suffer the consequences.  Obviously it is disappointing, because like I had said earlier, the efforts that he has made. I think that is his first foul on the quarterback since November, 2010. But based on the guidelines that the league has supplied, he is a repeat offender. So we and he, have to suffer the consequences accordingly.”

Tomlin did speak briefly with Harrison on Tuesday.

“He is an emotional guy, and rightfully so,” said Tomlin. “This is a guy that loves to play football, and that is being taken away from him for a week. I am sure there is some discomfort that comes with that.”

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