Harrison Calls Goodell a “Puppet,” Slams Mendenhall and Roethlisberger

LB James Harrison was fined over $100,000 for illegal hits in 2010. As a result, the four-time Pro Bowlers and 2008 AP Defensive Player of the Year is not a fan of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, The Associated Press reports.

In an interview for the August issue of Men’s Journal magazine, Harrison has harsh words for Goodell, who he referred to with an anti-gay slur, “stupid”, “puppet”, and “dictator”.

“If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn’t do it,” Harrison said of Goodell. “I hate him and will never respect him.”

Harrison called Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi “clowns”, says that Texans linebacker Brian Cushing is “juiced out of his mind”, and also criticized the performances of teammates Ben Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall in the Steelers’ Super Bowl XLV loss to the Green Bay Packers.

The Steelers are scheduled to visit the Texans on October 2nd.

Harrison also said that if the league is serious about increasing player safety, they would reduce the regular season to 14 games and shorten the offseason programs and training camp so “we’re not bangin’ heads so much in August; that’s where the brain trauma comes from.”

About the Author

Matt Loede
Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and of course, the National Football League. On NFL Sunday’s you can hear Matt on National networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and other stations around the country. Matt also joined The Washington Post in 2009 as a guest columnist on league hot topics. Born and raised in Cleveland, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

13 Comments on "Harrison Calls Goodell a “Puppet,” Slams Mendenhall and Roethlisberger"

  1. Steelers need to cut this bad apple loose. No matter how good a player might be, once you’re publicly critical of team mates, its almost impossible to rebuild the trust and commitment.

  2. Wow but also i understand his hate for goodell. But criticizing his qb. As i recall the d gave up some huge 3rd downs against green bay.

  3. First time I actually agree with Lil’ Crowley.

    KC you’re an idiot. There is no possible way the Steelers cut Harrison, he is way too valuable a player.

  4. Harrison needs a good press agent to upgrade the quality of his rant, but he merely said badly what many fans on this site have been saying more civilly for months: in 2010, Roger Goodell and the NFL front office modified the rules in mid-season regarding tackling technique; the changes were directed at the Steelers generally and James Harrison in particular ($100k of fines levied against one player is not coincidental); and the revised rules were fuzzy and subject to widely varying interpretations (ex-NFL TV commentators made that point repeatedly).

    Harrison was singled out, not because he is a dirty player, but because he is a physical player — he hits hard, which is what he is paid to do. Real football is a collision game. On top of that, Harrison is held on almost every play, and rarely gets the benefit of a flag. The man has a right to feel frustrated. Goodell’s diddling with the rules was the equivalent of a butcher placing a thumb on the scales. His actions were widely perceived, by fans and players, as grossly unfair and personal.

    Harrison’s comments about Ben were also impolitic and artlessly expressed. Naturally, the coaching staff hates to have negative opinions about teammates aired publicly, and Tomlin will rightly lecture him about his poor judgment. But again, Harrison’s views on Ben are for the most part accurate. Ben R. has many fine qualities, but his tendency (abetted by Arians) to eschew the running game and short routes to gamble on deep routes for bigger gains gets him in trouble. He throws interceptions that he shouldn’t; he makes his offensive line look worse than it is when he scrambles; and he is far too interested in inflating his own stats. Review the second Cleveland game of 2009 (the year we won Super Bowl XLIII), for example. In that game, Leftwich replaced an injured Ben R. and the team played better as a unit in both running and passing, because Leftwich makes quick decisions with the ball, takes the open short routes, and trusts his teammates to do their jobs. Leftwich is not as athletically gifted as Ben, but he is a better field general. In last year’s Super Bowl, as Harrison claimed, the offense did repeatedly put the defense at a disadvantage, and Rogers eventually found holes in our secondary because of it. That loss was not solely the fault of the defense.

    So while Harrison is guilty of gutter talk and bad manners and while the Steelers organization may not like the way he expresses himself, what he said on both points is valid — and everybody knows it.

  5. As much as I want to agree with Harrison and DrGeorge, I just cant. Accurate or not, the comments are deflating and hurt team unity. Harrison wants to blame Mendenhall and Ben for losing the Super Bowl? OK James, how about YOU showing up in that game? 0 sacks,0 FF,0 FR, and a robust 1 Tackle! How do you explain that? Maybe if Silverback has a better game, the defense doesnt get torched by Rodgers and Ben and Mendenhall arent thrown under the bus? Besides, I think that Ben is much more valuable than Harrison and regardless of Leftwich being a better “field general” the Steelers are NOT contenders without Ben.

    • You hit it out of the park again, Mark. History is littered with professional athletes who are extremely talented and productive but outspoken to a point where he becomes a detriment to team chemistry and unity. I do not want to draw comparisons to Terrell Owens, but some similarities are there. NOTHING GOOD COMES OF IT WHEN YOU CALL YOUR PLAYERS OUT IN THE PRESS!! THAT’S BUSH LEAGUE AND CLASSLESS!! Harrison is nuts!!!

      Hey, Dr.George do you see Lambert or Mean Joe calling out their teammates in the press like that? Both were incredibly intense players who still understood the rules of team chemistry. So you are saying that you would want Leftwich behind center in the fourth quarter, two minute offense of a Super Bowl with his “all his boys and all three of his time outs”? Was Ben an inferior “field general” in all of those come from behind victories? I guess the backup QB is still the most popular player on the team. I can also recall that you begged the the Steelers go all defense in the draft, but in this entry you blast the offense for “putting the defense at a disadvantage”, agreeing with Harrison’s assessment. Which one is it?

      By the way, with all of your conspiracy theories, maybe you might be able to link Goodell to the Kennedy assasination as well.

  6. Agree completely with Mark. For those who refuse to admit the significance of Ben Roethlisberger on the field, I submit the following.
    The Steelers managed both a top-10 defense (points allowed) and a top-10 running game (total rushing yards) in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2000 and 2001. In those seven seasons, the Steelers had a combined playoff record of 3-5, with zero championships. They didn’t even make the playoffs in 1998 or 2000.

    The cumulative playoff passer rating of Neil O’Donnell, Mike Tomczak, Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox is 68.9, with O’Donnell having the highest individual playoff passer rating of the four (72.7). Roethlisberger’s playoff passer rating is about 12 points higher than O’Donnell’s (84.5) in spite of having played almost twice as many playoff games, and he has twice as many playoff wins as O’Donnell and Kordell Stewart combined.
    Roethlisberger has started in 13 playoff games to date, and has a passer rating of 84.5 in those games. Through his first 13 playoff games, Tom Brady had a passer rating of 86.8, and Peyton Manning had a rating of 83.3. Roethlisberger is also within three points of Steve Young through his first 13 playoff games (87.5), within one point of Joe Montana (85.2), and higher than Dan Marino (82.8).

    Furthermore, he’s accomplished this in spite of being saddled with a running game that’s less efficient in the playoffs than any of the other QBs I mentioned. In fact, Young and Montana’s running games averaged nearly a full yard more per carry (4.4 each) through their first 13 playoff games than Roethlisberger’s did (3.5). Even Manning, Marino and Brady got more productivity from their running games (3.9, 3.9 and 3.8, respectively). This is worth bringing up a) because it flies directly in the face of common perception, and b) to nullify such an argument.
    Roethlisberger’s 10-3 record in the postseason speaks volumes. His .769 winning percentage in the playoffs surpasses both Brady (.737) and Manning (.473). Roethlisberger also compares favorably with Hall of Fame inductees of the past 10 years in key areas such as passer rating (92.5), completion percentage (63.1) and yards per attempt (8.0).

    • Great call Jeff! For those who let stats guide their perception of things, Jeff gives it to you straight! I couldnt agree more with Jeff’s assessment of things considering Ben and his value. The Steelers are good without Ben, Great with him! I would much rather see the Steelers be great. Leftwich,Batch,etc.. are comperable Back-ups. Thats it. The team is in good hands for a week or 2 with them, but as far as winning a championship? NO WAY! This can be cemented by knowing that Batch’s Lions and Lefty’s Jags did not win a title with them. Sure, there are other factors, but Ben carries a team while those guys never did.

  7. Guys, if you will read carefully what I wrote, you will see that we agree that Harrison was wrong to air his criticisms publicly. I made that point twice, in fact. Nor do I disagree that Ben is a better NFL QB at this point in his career than Leftwich or Batch. That’s why they are backups. We agree on that, too. And the Steelers are indeed a better team with Ben than without him. We also agree on that.

    Harrison’s comment was limited to Ben’s Super Bowl XLV performance. If you like statistics, try these: Ben’s QB rating in Super Bowl XLV was 77.4 and he did in fact throw two interceptions. When this is combined with Mendenhall’s fumble at a crucial moment, it can fairly be said that turnovers cost the team that game. When you strip away Harrison’s ill-advised rhetoric and street talk, that is his point — and it is a defensible point. By contrast, Aaron Rogers rating in Super Bowl XLV was 111.5 and he threw 3 TDs. For the statistical record, Ben’s rating in Super Bowl XLIII was 93.2 and in XL a mere 22.6, the worst in NFL history. Not exactly awe-inspiring performances. In all three of those Super Bowls, the opposing QB outplayed Ben.

    As for my own comments on Ben, I merely stated that his play would improve if he took what the defense gives him, as Leftwich and Batch do, rather than trying to force the action or make himself the star of the show. When Ben was suspended for the first four games of the season, the team — under three different and less gifted QBs — won 3 out of the 4 games. That means the Steelers are pretty darn good, even without Ben. And statistically, Ben is more efficient when he plays within himself and the concept of the offense, as Cowher and Wisenhut required him to do, instead of freelancing as Arians permits him to do.

    Finally, please note that I am not exactly the Lone Ranger in this opinion. Ben’s unwillingness to play disciplined football is primarily why he is consistently ranked below Manning, Brady, Rogers and other Tier 1 QBs. While I place little stock in pundit rankings, in this case, the rankings reflect the prevailing view: if given the chance, the majority of NFL head coaches would take any of those three QBs, and possibly one or two others, ahead of Ben. That does not mean Ben is a bad QB — it means he needs to become better if he wants to be compared with the best.

    • DrGeorge, If Aaron Rodgers had that kind of game in the Super Bowl its extremely hard to blame Ben for the loss. How about the defense not allowing a 3 TD, 300+yard,111.5 rating? If the Steelers make 1 more stop in the game, maybe they actually win it? If the Packers do NOT drop a few passes, they would have hung 40 points on the Steelers. What Im saying is that if the defense and Harrison had played better, the Steelers might have won that game. I cant blame Roethlisberger for that loss, at least not any more than I blame a porous pass defense.

    • Where did you say exactly that the Steelers are in fact better off with Ben rather than Leftwich? Was it when you said that Leftwich was a better “field general”? Or was it when you criticized him for his too many interceptions and “inflating his stats”? I have to admit. That is the first time I ever heard Ben accused of that. Maybe Romo but not Ben. Show me in that first entry where you said all of it. I smell a little spin doctoring on your part again because you are the “lone ranger” on this. And that’s ok, if the other head coaches would rather have Manning, Brady, Brees, I would take Ben with his two rings. As long as you are talking about teams records without their star QB, let me throw a name and record at you. Matt Cassell and 11-5. What do you say about that?

  8. I typically agree with Dr. George but I just can’t in this instance. Sorry, Doc. I mean, I do see (relative) flaws in Ben’s game that of which revolve around not being able to read defenses as quickly and efficiently as some other QBs (Manning, Brady, Rodgers, Brees) and being slightly streaky (i.e., as Steve Young pointed out which I agree with, he doesn’t regularly pick apart defenses). BUT THAT’s IT! That’s the extent of his flaws from what I see and I’m no professional couch QB, but I did stay at a Hliday Inn Express last night. I mean this quivelling over SB stats and passer ratings and mumbo jumbo. Bottom line, there are 31 other QB’s in the league—all of which get “happy feet” and nervous the more they are hit after throwing or being sacked ergo they get worse in their game. Just try to argue that point I dare someone! BB is the only QB who actually gets better (or, at the very least, NOT WORSE!) the MORE HE GETS HIT, PERIOD! He has a suck offensive line for pass protection, a second string nose tackle (Howard Green) pushed Kemo into him which caused the pick six in the SB. I mean beggers can’t be choosers (when I say beggers I am NOT referring to the entirety of the Steelers organization, that owuld be absurd; I’m referring to the lack of elite QB’s we’ve had). Before Ben we didn’t win super bowls and after him we have! EVERYTHING else has relatively remained the same (oh, the offensive line has gotten worse). So, Doc, with all due respect, just say you don’t like Ben because that’s what it sounds like. I mean, I know I can be a hasty, tempermental asshole on here at times but at least people know where they stand with me good bad or indifferent. Everything doens’t always have to be political…Big Ben for president, yeah nigguz!

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