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Not holding back: Harrison hammers Goodell, Steelers mates

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Heavily fined Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a "crook" and a "devil," among other insults, in a magazine article, and he even took some of his teammates to task.

The 2008 AP Defensive Player of the Year hasn't been shy about ripping the league after he was docked $100,000 for illegal hits last season. But in the August issue of Men's Journal, set to hit newsstands Friday, his rants against Goodell reached another level of wrath.

"If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn't do it," Harrison told the magazine. "I hate him and will never respect him."

Harrison's other descriptions of the commissioner include an anti-gay slur, "stupid," "puppet" and "dictator."

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If the Steelers had defeated the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV, Harrison said, he would have whispered in Goodell's ear during the trophy ceremony: "Why don't you quit and do something else, like start your own league in flag football?"

Harrison also criticized other NFL executives and called New England Patriots-turned-commentators Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi "clowns."

"(Rodney) Harrison was the dirtiest player ever, a steroid cheater who was known by the whole world to be a headhunter and late hitter," Harrison said. "And Bruschi's an idiot, straight-up simple. I'd like to meet them both in a dark alley."

Harrison has a special affection for the Patriots, whom he said robbed him of a third Super Bowl ring.

"We were the best team in football in 2004, but the Patriots, who we beat during the regular season, stole our signals and picked up 90 percent of our blitzes (in the AFC Championship Game)," Harrison said. "They got busted for it later, but, hey, they're Goodell’s boys, so he slapped 'em $500,000 and burned the tapes. Was he going to rescind their Super Bowls? Man, hell no!"

Harrison also questions if a black player is punished more for a hard hit on a white player than the opposite.

"I slammed Vince Young on his head and paid five grand, but just touched Drew Brees and that was 20," Harrison said. "You think black players don't see this (expletive) and lose all respect for Goodell?"

Harrison's beef doesn't end with Goodell and the Patriots. He described Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing as "juiced out of his mind" -- and even took shots at Steelers teammates Rashard Mendenhall and Ben Roethlisberger for their performances in the Super Bowl loss to the Packers.

Harrison called Mendenhall a "fumble machine" for his fourth-quarter turnover. The running back responded Wednesday on Twitter that he didn't have a problem with what Harrison said "because I know him." But Mendenhall also included a link to his stats from last season, which show he didn't have a pattern of fumbling.

Of Roethlisberger's two interceptions in the Super Bowl, Harrison said: "Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again. Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain't that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does."

Harrison called Roethlisberger on Wednesday morning, according to ESPN, and explained his comments. Roethlisberger told ESPN that Harrison said the Men's Journal writer twisted his words, and it wasn't his intention to criticize the quarterback. Roethlisberger said he is taking Harrison at his word and that their relationship is "fine."

Harrison's rants weren't all negative, though. He praised Steelers safety Troy Polamalu as the one NFL player he respects.

"(Polamalu) is spiritual and lives it like he talks it," Harrison said. "You know, he gets more flags than anyone on our team but never gets fined for nothin'. He's so polite and talks so softly that he could tell Goodell to kiss his ass, and Goodell would smile and say thank you."

Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement that he hadn't seen the article or talked to Harrison, who can't have contact with the team until the NFL lockout ends.

"We will discuss the situation at the appropriate time, when permitted once the labor situation is resolved," Rooney said.

Despite the firestorm, Harrison isn't ready to give up on the Steelers.

"LOL you crazy man!" he tweeted Wednesday night in response to Josh Cribbs telling him he could sign with the Cleveland Browns if the Steelers don't back him. "You know I'm a steeler till I die."

Jerome Bettis, Harrison's former Steelers teammate, called the linebacker's comments to the magazine "disappointing."

"You know this is a team game," Bettis told NFL.com's Steve Wyche on Wednesday at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nev. "It's not an offense against defense type of situation. It's a team, and you have to go out there and compete as a team. And if there's some issues, you air it internally. I don't think that's something you bring out in the setting, in the format that he did. So I was a little disappointed in that."

Beyond the insults, Harrison made some serious points about what he believes are the league's misguided attempts to increase safety.

Harrison explained how non-guaranteed contracts make players more likely to hit high, because in the short term, a torn knee ligament is more costly than a concussion.

Harrison suggested the real way to prevent head injuries is to shorten the season to 14 games, start offseason workouts later and trim the length of training camp so "we're not bangin' heads so much in August; that's where the brain trauma comes from."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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