x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Harrison vows to keep on hitting for Steelers

The Pittsburgh player is disappointed at NFL's attempts to eradicate violent tackling but has no plans to change his style of play.

James Harrison, right, in action for the Pittsburgh Steelers above, threatened to retire briefly earlier in the season.
James Harrison, right, in action for the Pittsburgh Steelers above, threatened to retire briefly earlier in the season.

James Harrison, the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker, said the NFL's efforts to curtail hard hits is just "a show" - and he believes the league's stance on other issues proves it.

Harrison, who was fined US$100,000 (Dh367,000) for illegal hits this season, said the owners' push to extend the regular season from 16 to 18 games and the possibility of a lockout prove the NFL is more interested in maximising revenue than the health of its players.

"It's not about player safety," Harrison said. "It's about them making money."

Harrison briefly went so far as to threaten to retire because he said it was too difficult to adjust to the new way rules were being enforced.

"It was a hotheaded decision," he said. "You can sit back and look at it for what it was. And when I sat back, there are some things you can't control and everything happens for a reason.

Harrison said he feels as if the league was "looking for a poster boy" when it started fining him.

Harrison said: "I don't want to hurt nobody. I don't want to step on nobody's foot or hurt their toe.

"I don't want to have no dirt or none of this rubber on this field fly into their eye and make their eye hurt.

"I just want to tackle them softly on the ground and, if [we] can, we'll lay a pillow down where I'm going to tackle them, so they don't hit the ground too hard."

Asked whether he is worried about the dangers of concussions from violent hits on the field, he was defiant, as expected.

"My style of play is how you're supposed to play the game," he said.

"It's no more dangerous for me than it is for anybody else. That's part of the risk you take. There's risks with everything you do. You've just got to try and minimise the risk and if something happens, it happens."

There have been suggestions the league might be trying to eliminate the violent hits Harrison has become known for, but he said: "If you want to get it totally out of the game, put flags on us.

"We'll tag off and pull flags off each other and we'll see how popular the game is then and how many people come to watch it."