The NFL has denied James Harrison’s appeal of a one-game suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy, and the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker will sit out Monday night’s game against San Francisco.
The ruling was made by NFL-NFLPA on-field appeals officer Ted Cottrell and announced Friday.
Harrison was suspended Tuesday because of the hit to McCoy during the Steelers’ win over the Browns on Dec. 8. McCoy suffered a concussion.
The NFL cited Harrison’s history of flagrant hits – this was his fifth on a quarterback – in making him the first player suspended under stricter guidelines for player safety that were invoked midway through last season.
”I’m not surprised. You’re appealing to the same people who put the suspension in place, so no, I’m not surprised at all,” Steelers safety Ryan Clark said. ”I don’t care about the league’s message anymore. It’s about us as a football team playing the type of football that’s going to help us win championships, despite who gets suspended, despite who gets fined.
”We’re going to try to play within the rules. We’re going to stop fighting this battle of talking to them. That’s what this is about.”
The Steelers (10-3) are locked in a battle for the AFC North Division title with Baltimore (10-3). The Ravens won both games in the season series.
”We have to adjust and play within the rules that they make up and the stuff they’re going to call,” Steelers linebacker James Farrior said. ”We have to really be careful about how we approach it. It’s one of those things we’ll have to deal with as we go, and hopefully it’ll work out.”
Clark, as often is the case in the Steelers locker room, spoke the loudest.
”Like I said on Wednesday, my disappointment is for James,” he said. ”He’s been trying really hard to comply with what’s being asked of him. For him to be suspended for this situation, to us, is disheartening. To me, it was a between-the-whistle play. They’re making an example out of him for it this year. I don’t think it’s right.
”We have to continue playing and just roll with the punches and try to win games without one of our best players.”
Harrison has 53 tackles and eight sacks this season.
”They’re definitely is an emphasis on head and head trauma,” Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel said. ”You’ve got to be careful and that’s just where the game’s at today.”