Steelers linebacker James Harrison has made a name for himself by unapologetically delivering some of the most vicious, and often controversial, hits in the NFL. He once told reporters he seeks to hurt offensive players when he tackles them. Thursday night, however, when his defensive teammate Troy Polamalu was on the other side of a potentially dangerous hit by Eagles quarterback Micheal Vick while returning an interception, Harrison was crying foul (Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports).
You should have heard the gasp when Polamalu went down.
He was fine, of course, but some in the Steelers’ locker room fumed about Vick going low like that, especially in a preseason game. As Harrison told me, "You wouldn’t think he’d hit Troy like that if he was just trying to tackle him."
Was Vick's hit low, and possibly a little dirty? Sure. But for Harrison, a man who has railed against NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's crackdown on illegal and dirty hits to the point of floating conspiracy theories, to even think about opening his mouth critically in this situation is the height of hypocrisy.
What's worse is Polamalu had absolutely no reason to expose himself to such a hit. It is preseason after all. No one would have faulted Polamalu for sliding to the turf and avoiding injury. Instead, Polamalu decided on the reckless route, opening himself up to a hit by not only running the interception back, but taking his eyes off a closing Vick. He almost looked like he was trying to find someone to lateral the ball to as he took the hit from Vick.
Here's video of the play.
Afterward, Polamalu tried to excuse his actions (Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports)
When you're taking it back, in the middle of the game, you don't know if you're in the postseason or the preseason," Polamalu said.
That's just dumb. Polamalu, if he's going to even make it to the regular season without getting injured this year, needs to tone down the bravado and think for a second before going on adventures like the one he did tonight. At the end of the day, Thursday night's game was almost meaningless and the interception return was completely meaningless. The Steelers' defense needs him to contend, and taking unnecessary risks like this is going to come back to bite him and his team if he keeps it up.