When he was young, James Harrison used to shoot birds and squirrels in his yard. He also slept in the same bed as his parents until he was 12. These and other revelations come to us courtesy of Paul Solotaroff's profile of The Silverback Steeler in the August issue of Men's Journal, which hits newsstands Friday. The magazine provided an online excerpt today that includes portions of what Harrison had to say about Roger Goodell, the New England Patriots, Ben Roethlisberger and Troy Polamalu. But in the print edition, there's more. Much more. Behold.
On what Harrison would have told Goodell on the podium had the Steelers beaten the Packers in the Super Bowl back in February:
"I'd have whispered in his ear, 'Why don't you quit and do something else, like start your own league in flag football?' "
On Harrison's meeting in November with Goodell, NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson and the league's director of football operations, Merton Hanks, at which he was shown a reel that contained four years of his questionable hits:
"They take 10 plays out of 4,000 snaps and want to know my thought process on each. What I tried to explain to Goodell, but he was too stupid to understand, is that dudes crouch when you go to hit them. With Massaquoi, my target area was his waist and chest, but he lowered himself at the last possible second and I couldn't adjust to his adjustment. But Goodell, who's a devil, ain't hearing that. Where's the damn discretion, the common sense?"
Harrison goes on to describe Goodell as "Faggot Goodell," a "punk," a "dictator." He says Anderson is "another dummy who never played a down," and he says Hanks, a former Pro Bowler for the 49ers, "needs to be ashamed because he played D before, though he never was what you'd call a real hitter." The league, Harrison says, targets the Steelers because they have "too much force, too much swag, and are predominantly black."
On Clay Matthews, whose forced fumble on Rashard Mendenhall in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl he overlooks (except when he later calls Mendenhall a "fumble machine" for having coughed up the ball in that spot):
"Clay Matthews, who's all hype — he had a couple of three-sack games in the first four weeks and was never heard from again — I'm quite sure I saw him put his helmet on Michael Vick and never paid a dime. But if I hit Peyton Manning or Tom Brady high, they'd have fucked around and kicked me out of the league."
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Though Solotaroff could not confirm this by speaking to Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, Harrison even says LeBeau encourages high hits, and that LeBeau continued to do so even after players began drawing fines last season:
"That's what we're told by Coach LeBeau — blow through the guy, not to him. When the fines came down he said, 'Don't change a damn thing.' You're doing it the way we do it on this team."
On the Patriots, just after his comments about their alleged cheating:
"I hate those motherfuckers, especially those two clowns [Rodney Harrison and Teddy Bruschi] who talked about me after the fines. ... Sayin' I'm dirty — shit, Harrison was the dirtiest player ever, a steroid cheater who was known by the whole world to be a headhunter and late hitter. And Bruschi's an idiot, straight-up simple. I'd like to meet them both in a dark alley."
On the impact his style of play may ultimately have on himself, which he has discussed before:
"When you hit a dude hard, you feel it, too, and the Steelers go at play-to-die speeds. But if, God forbid, I wind up having brain damage, so be it. That's something I'll have to deal with down the road."
On Brian Cushing:
"That boy is juiced out of his mind."
Mendenhall, for one, has taken to Twitter to respond to Harrison already.
And, finally, for all his tough talk, it looks like Harrison is already starting to backpedal.