Steelers' Rooney voices support for LB Harrison

Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney declared his support for linebacker James Harrison and called the Pro Bowler's tactics on defense '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.

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 $75,000 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.

"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?"

Harrison resumed practicing with the Steelers on Thursday, one day after he threatened to retire because of the NFL's stricter punishment of players for dangerous hits.

"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 team. "I will continue to play the game with the same passion, intensity and focus with which I have always played and let the chips fall where they may. I have never given up, quit or walked away from anything in my life, and I am not about to start now."

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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