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James Harrison Clarifies Tomlin Accusation, Denies Bounty System

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Former Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison is clarifying his controversial claim that head coach Mike Tomlin handed him an envelope after a violent hit.

Harrison took to Instagram Friday, strongly denying Tomlin ever compensated him for injuring an opposing player.

“Mike T. Has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY,” he wrote.

The hit in question was one of the most violent of Harrison’s career, when he leveled Cleveland Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi back in 2010, concussing the wideout. The hit resulted in a whopping $75,000 fine.

Harrison doubled down that the hit was clean, and that he never should have been punished in the first place.

“If you knew the full story of what happened back then you’d know that BS fine for a legal play wasn’t even penalized during the game,” he said. “The league was getting pressure because the first concussion lawsuits were starting and they had to look like they cared about player safety all of a sudden.”

Harrison added that the NFL sold pictures of the hit in question, and that it was included in a DVD compilation of the league’s hardest hits.

He ended the post by again denying that the Tomlin and the Steelers were ever involved in a bounty system. Many likened Harrison’s anecdote to the “Bountygate” scandal that slammed the New Orleans Saints in 2012.

“AGAIN AT NO TIME did Mike T. EVER suggest anybody hurt anybody or that they’d be rewarded for anything like that. GTFOH with that BS!!!”

The uproar started when Harrison joined the “Going Deep” podcast last Thursday, mentioning that Tomlin gave him an envelope shortly after the Massaquoi hit. He declined to reveal the contents of the envelope.

Recognizing the seriousness of Harrison’s claim, Steelers President Art Rooney II made a statement Thursday evening denying the allegation.

“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.”

The league has not yet commented on the situation.

Harrison won two Super Bowls and was selected to the Pro Bowl five times over his 14 years in Pittsburgh.

His 80.5 sacks and 122 tackles-for-loss are both the most in franchise history.

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