As a player with the Pittsburgh Steelers, James Harrison was a dynamic linebacker whose actions spoke with the veracity of a thousand tongues. With the media, the man they called Deebo often seemed to be preparing for a life of silence in a monastery. When he did exercise his voice box, it was often surly and dismissive. But now that James has exchanged his No. 92 for a lavender dress shirt, a lapel-mic and a paycheck, he’s like Ariel of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, having relocated his vocal cords and isn’t shying away from controversy at all.
On Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed, Harrison was a guest of hosts Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe. Once again, he offered up his outspoken opinion of his former team. In July, James commented on Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s lack of discipline by comparison with New England’s Bill Belichick. Yesterday, he cautioned the Steelers’ defensive woes are not behind them, saying, “No way things are fixed”.
The hero of Super Bowl XLII reiterated his bold stance that, if he were his former teammate, Le’Veon Bell, he’d stay away as long as possible to avoid damaging his value in 2019’s Free Agency pool. But then he furthered his point with some very sketchy advice to Bell.
“If I’m Le’Veon, I’m coming back Nov. 13, and going to go in there, I’m going to get my credit, the season that I need to get, and I’m going to do the best I can to get out of that season healthy,” Harrison said. ”For me, I’d give you everything in practice. You would see, the cameras would see, that I am fine. I am healthy. But come Saturday? Something ain’t right. I can’t play on Sunday. Because if I go out here and I mess something up. I’m losing a lot of money.”
To quote Steve Martin from 1988’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, “Wow! All I can say ... is Wow!”
There’s absolutely zero doubt in my mind that Harrison genuinely believes this is a responsible course of action for Bell. He said he would do the same thing if he was in the same situation. This is the same guy that, unhappy with his non-utilization in Pittsburgh (justifiably so, in my opinion), slept in meetings and was disruptive enough to orchestrate his release (not justifiable, in my opinion).
Anyhow, Bell and his agent (Adisa Bakari) would have to be insane to employ the suggested method. Especially since it was documented on national television. So there’s a very good chance they’ll do just that.
James Harrison has little to lose from his comments. He doesn’t really care what anybody thinks about him, except for the networks who are paying him. These antics make him so much more bankable as a talk-show guest. So, I guess it works for him. But I find it confusing that the same man who I applauded on this site for not letting his young sons accept participation trophies would now advocate faking an injury to bilk a team out of paying him.
As far as Bell goes, following this advice could actually make some potential suitors apprehensive about someone who would take advantage of a situation in this way. But Le’Veon checked his scruples at the door a long time ago. Now it seems Harrison has too.