James Harrison delivered plenty of big hits throughout his career, and a few of them clearly crossed the line into dangerous territory, including his 2010 helmet-to-helmet shot on Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi.
During an appearance on Barstool’s “Going Deep” podcast, Harrison claimed Mike Tomlin gave him “an envelope” following the hit on Massaquoi, suggesting the Steelers coach covered Harrison’s $75,000 fine from the NFL. (It was later reduced to $50,000).
“I ain’t gonna lie to you, when that happened, right?” Harrison said. “The G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that. I ain’t gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.”
Steelers president Art Rooney II responded to Harrison’s comments Thursday, strongly denying the alleged exchange between Harrison and Tomlin took place.
“I am certain nothing like this ever happened,” Rooney II said (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). “I have no idea why James would make a comment like this, but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”
Harrison’s longtime agent Bill Parise told the Tribune-Review’s Joe Rutter he had no knowledge of the alleged incident.
“Absolutely not. Never happened,” Parise said. “I would have known that. It didn’t happen. … James and I are still together. We were really close during our 18 years. He would have said something along the way.”
Both Harrison and Tomlin believed the hit was legal at the time, and Harrison still isn’t apologetic about drilling Massaquoi, who suffered a concussion on the play.
“Listen, on everything I love, on my daddy’s grave, I hit that man with about 50 percent of what I had and I just hit him because I wanted him to let loose of the ball,” Harrison said on the podcast. “If I had knew they was gonna fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him.”
Despite a successful run in Pittsburgh from 2002-2017, which included five Pro Bowl selections and two Super Bowl victories, Harrison has often been critical of Tomlin in retirement. He has referred to Tomlin as a good, but not great, head coach.
After being released from the Steelers in 2017, Harrison signed with the Patriots, playing in five regular season games and three playoff games. He retired during the 2018 offseason.
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