Men's Journal has just published a series of inadvisable comments from James Harrison, who attacks NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (unsurprising) and Ben Roethlisberger (surprising). You can read excerpts of the article here.
"But up until last year, there was no word of me being dirty — till Roger Goodell, who’s a crook and a puppet, said I was the dirtiest player in the league. If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn’t do it. I hate him and will never respect him."
Harrison also uses a gay slur to describe Goodell and says that if the Steelers had won last year's Super Bowl, he would have suggested that Goodell start his own flag football league. He also suggests that Goodell uses fines to protect white players rather than black ones.
"I slammed Vince Young on his head and paid five grand, but just touched Drew Brees and that was 20," Harrison said. "You think black players don't see this s--- and lose all respect for Goodell?"
Elsewhere, Harrison blames Roethlisberger for performing poorly in the Super Bowl last year, saying that Roethlisberger should "stop trying to act like Peyton Manning."
Harrison also calls running back Rashard Mendenhall a "fumble machine."
It's no particular surprise that Harrison thinks these things. What's surprising is that he said them to a journalist. They remind me of John Rocker's racist and homophobic comments in Sports Illustrated a decade ago. Harrison's comments aren't nearly as offensive, obviously (with the caveat that I haven't yet seen the anti-gay slur), and some of them aren't offensive at all in a political sense; they're just likely to get him in trouble with his teammates and with the commissioner. But most people who have beliefs that could get them in serious trouble have the sense not to mention them to someone capable of distributing them to the entire world. One has to wonder how this journalist got Harrison to say these things.
The comments about Roethlisberger and Mendenhall are especially strange. These are players with whom Harrison is going to have to share a logo and a locker room.
The Steelers have released a statement on Harrison from Art Rooney II, who says that the Steelers will deal with Harrison's comments when the lockout is over.
Mendenhall said he hasn't taken offense to Harrison's comments because "I know him." Perhaps Mendenhall is just feeling sympathetic after his own offensive comments about 9/11 became big news a few months back.
Harrison says that the Steelers would have won another Super Bowl for the 2004 season if it hadn't been for the New England Patriots stealing signals in the AFC Championship Game.
Harrison does have nice things to say about Troy Polamalu, who he says is "spiritual and lives it like he talks it."
For more on the Steelers, check out Behind The Steel Curtain.