Former Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison has had a rocky relationship with Pittsburgh since leaving town back in 2017.
After his latest comments, it does not seem that there will be a reconciliation anytime soon.
Joining the “Going Deep” podcast, which is hosted by former Steelers lineman Willie Colon, Harrison spoke about his vicious hit on Browns wide receiver Mohammed Massaquoi that drew the largest fine of his career. Harrison was far from contrite.
“Listen, on everything I love, on my daddy’s grave, I hit that man with about 50 percent of what I had and I just hit him because I wanted him to let loose of the ball,” Harrison said. “If I had knew they was gonna fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him.”
The real bombshell is Harrison’s claim that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin handed him an envelope after the hit.
“Dude, I’m telling you, 75? And I ain’t gonna lie to you, when that happened, right? The G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that. I ain’t gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.”
Steelers President Art Rooney II responded Thursday evening, vehemently denying the allegations.
“I am very certain nothing like this ever happened,” he said. “I have no idea why James would make a comment like this but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”
“I am very certain nothing like this ever happened. I have no idea why James would make a comment like this but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) May 14, 2020
-Steelers President Art Rooney II
These are serious allegations by Harrison, especially considering the league’s recent history with coaches paying players for unsavory actions on the field.
The Bountygate scandal rocked the league in 2012, when it was revealed that New Orleans Saints coaches were compensating players for injuring opponents. The scandal resulted in historic sanctions for the Saints and a year-long suspension for head coach Sean Payton.
The undrafted Harrison spent 14 years in Pittsburgh, making five Pro Bowls and winning two Super Bowls during his tenure. His 80.5 sacks are the most in franchise history.