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Steelers' Harrison suggests NFL not serious about player safety

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison isn't letting up in his criticism of the NFL in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

One day after sarcastically suggesting that a pillow could be used to soften blows he delivers to opponents, Harrison called the NFL's talk about wanting to protect players "just a show."

Harrison said before Wednesday's practice in Fort Worth, Texas, that the owners' push for an 18-game regular season and the possibility of a lockout prove the NFL is more interested in maximizing revenue than the health of its players.

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

The league and the players' union face an early March deadline for trying to negotiate a new labor agreement.

"It's no doubt to me," said Harrison, whose Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers for the NFL championship Sunday. "I believe they're going to lock us out."

Harrison was fined $100,000 by the NFL for illegal hits this season, and he even went briefly so far as to threaten to retire because he said it was too difficult to adjust to the new way rules were being enforced. On Wednesday, though, he acknowledged that any talk of quitting was a result of being "hotheaded."

Asked Wednesday if he's worried about the dangers of concussion from violent hits on the field, he said: "That's my style of play. There's a risk with everything you do. ... Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, that's how you play the game."

At Tuesday's media day at Cowboys Stadium, Harrison said he feels as if the league was "looking for a poster boy" when it started fining him.

In a deadpan delivery, 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 y'all can, we'll lay a pillow down where I'm going to tackle them, so they don't hit the ground too hard, Mr. Goodell."

Harrison, who paid more in fines this season for four different hits than the entire Packers team was docked, also was asked if he was bitter about the attention his physical play received from the NFL office this season.

"They took $100,000 out of my pocket," Harrison responded to NFL Network's Kara Henderson. "You think I'm not bitter?"

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) rushes during an NFL football game between the between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

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