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Harrison plans to appeal $75K fine for flagrant hit

Pittsburgh SteelersPro Bowl linebacker James Harrison will appeal his $75,000 fine for an illegal hit, according to his agent Bill Parise.

Harrison was one of three players fined a total of $175,000 by the NFL on Tuesday for flagrant hits last weekend -- he was docked for a helmet-hit on Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi -- and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday followed up the fines by releasing a memo emphasizing significant penalties will be imposed upon players who strike an opponent in the head or neck in violation of existing rules.

Parise said that the NFL Players Association will back the appeal and that he has contacted the NFL to schedule an appeal hearing. Once there is a hearing, a ruling would come within 30 days. Parise said he does not expect things to be finalized for a few months.

Steelers president Art Rooney declared his support for Harrison on Thursday, calling the hit in question 'legal,' according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"We've told James that if he decides to appeal, he has our support," Rooney told the newspaper Friday.

"I think the play was a legal hit," Mr. Rooney said. "It's on the borderline, though ... I understand the part about not launching yourself. I think that's the part that was on the borderline. I mean, did he lunge at the guy to make the tackle or did he launch himself?"

The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker resumed practicing with the team on Thursday, one day after he threatened to retire because of the NFL's stricter punishment of players for dangerous hits.

Harrison, arguing the restrictions won't allow him to play football as he has always played it, met with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on Wednesday to discuss the changes. Tomlin decided to give Harrison a cooling-off day and sent him home from practice.

"I have come to the decision that I cannot and will not let the league office stop me from playing the game that I love," Harrison said in a statement issued Thursday by the Steelers.

Rooney suggested that the league's approach to fines required monitoring.

"The thing I'm concerned about going forward is the level of discipline and how far we're going with that," Rooney said. "And I hope that the league office is going to draw a distinction between a flagrant hit, an egregious hit -- whatever these words are that are getting thrown around -- versus something that is a violation but is not flagrant."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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