James Harrison doing what he does on 'Hard Knocks'

Gregory Shamus

People who don't get James Harrison often feel like he owes them something; like his requirement to cooperate with the media includes the enjoyment of the act.

Maybe it's Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Maybe it's football fans outside Pittsburgh.

Maybe I'm the delusional one. I'm open to that possibility.

The fact is there's a rather large issue between Bengals linebacker James Harrison and most every other person with interest in the NFL. The difference is, while Reedy and many Bengals fans throw up their hands at his stance on many things, I sit back and laugh.

Not because I'm happy Harrison is no longer on the Steelers (quite the opposite, actually), but because the Bengals don't get it. They don't get James Harrison.

Or maybe it's just NFL.com Around the League editor Gregg Rosenthal (I guess it's the morning to rip him).

His recent scraping of news comes off the heels of the most recent episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks" series featuring the training camp highlights of the Cincinnati Bengals.

In a very Harrisonian-like statement, Harrison said, "I don’t feel they deserve to be here. They did nothing to be here, other than want to be here," he said. "They didn’t put no blood, sweat and tears into none of this. All these men in here, they did that. They (the cameras) did nothing. No one deserves to see this, to come inside of this unless you’re a part of this. That’s why."

Rosenthal stands high on his pulpit and decrees "Harrison is wrong on this point. NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, his son Steve and countless others put in the work for decades to help promote the sport to where it is today."

Neither Ed Sabol, nor his son Steve, nor their extended families, friends or insurance agents have anything to do with the fact the Cincinnati Bengals have a season to prepare for, and it doesn't have anything to do with the fact the Bengals brought Harrison in to provide that kind of edge; the villain figure to everyone but the team.

Of course he doesn't want the cameras around. Why would he? It seems there are too many Rosenthals in the media - self-glorified tabloid producers who aim for easy and lame jokes over reasonable attempts to understand a player's perspective.

On the show, to avoid cameras, Harrison hopped into the car of a random motorist. He said he didn't know the man driving. These kinds of things must make Rosenthal a little excited in his southern regions, and uses it to end his typically bland bowl of mediocre pudding:

"It's kind of like this: Everybody knows I'm getting into the car with him. There's a bunch of cameras watching me get in the car. It wouldn't be too smart," Harrison said. "They've got his license plate and everything else. And plus, I think I can kind of handle myself. He's driving and I'm behind him, so I think I'd be all right." It's unclear what that all means, but I read it as a warning to Cincinnati motorists this month: Be ready.

It's actually not at all hard to understand what he's talking about. I know that because I actually read the story Rosenthal is scraping. His answer comes from the idea of it being dangerous for Harrison to get in the car with a random stranger...who may want to kidnap...James Harrison.

Not suggesting that's a wise course of action, but when you'd rather read quips when the fair and appropriate context is provided, it makes sense.

And that's the way to figure out what Harrison is saying. Approach it from the mindset he doesn't like the media, he's one of the most tenured players in the league and he was brought in to provide a winning mentality to a team that hasn't won a playoff game since even the 35-year-old Harrison was in grade school.

But it's much more fun to act as if Harrison is a brainless idiot, apparently. What's fun is seeing those who try to vilify him for such actions act exactly how they wish Harrison was acting.

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