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James Harrison misses practice as he mulls retirement

James Harrison takes out Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi on Sunday. (AP)

Updated at 1:13 p.m.

James Harrison has been excused from the Pittsburgh Steelers' practice today as he considers retirement in the wake of the NFL's crackdown on dangerous and illegal hits. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Harrison's absence.

"We wouldn't joke about this," Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, told Schefter. "This is a very serious issue. James is very concerned about how to play football. If James is going to be fined $75,000 for making a legal tackle, then how do you go play football? It's quite frustrating to James, to coach [Mike] Tomlin, to me, to everybody."

Tomlin met with Harrison this morning and "knowing how emotional he is, figured it best he wasn't around answering questions, fanning his fire all day," Fox's Jay Glazer tweeted.

Filed at 10:31 a.m.

James Harrison, fined $75,000 Tuesday for two hits in the Pittsburgh Steelers' game against the Cleveland Browns, says he's contemplating retirement after the NFL's crackdown on dangerous and illegal hits.

Harrison may just talking a good game at this point or perhaps he has, as Mike Florio says, dethroned Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh's new drama queen). Either way, he seemed sincere.

"I'm going to sit down and have a serious conversation with my coach [Wednesday] and see if I can actually play by NFL rules and still be effective," Harrison said in a Fox Sports Radio interview. "If not, I may have to give up playing football. . . . I really truly hope it's something that can be done. But the way that things were being explained to me [Tuesday] and the reasoning for it, I don't feel I can continue to play and be effective and, like I say, not have to worry about injuring someone else or risking injury to myself."

There's been plenty of reaction by players to the crackdown and there figures to be more with players returning from Tuesday's off-day. Phillip Daniels and Clinton Portis have weighed in. And, boy, so has Brian Urlacher, who says the NFL might as well rename itself the NFFL. (The second "F" stands for "flag," btw.)

"It's freaking football. There are going to be big hits,'' Urlacher said. "I don't understand how they can do this after one weekend of hitting. And I can't understand how they can suspend us for it. I think it's a bunch of bull [bleep].
"You know what we should do? We should just put flags on everybody. Let's make it the NFFL -- the National Flag Football League. It's unbelievable.''

Josh Cribbs, who absorbed Harrison's hit, said via Twitter:

I have no bad will towards LB James Harrison. That's what he's suppose to do knock people out, it's what makes him one of the best....I don't believe he intentionally wants to injure anyone, but it is apart of the game..He has been hitting people like that as my teammate at Kent State & now as my rival he still hits people like that... He is still my boy...

And ...

It is unfortunate, but our sport is brutal we will both bounce back & compete again real soon... Oh yeah & we play each other twice!!!less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Harrison's Steelers teammate, Ryan Clark:

Taking suggestions can someone explain to me how to separate the ball from man over the middle w/o sacrificing 75k! Please I need help!less than a minute ago via web

LaRon Landry, in the Redskins' locker room, said, "Hell, no, I'm not going to change."

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: "It's a dangerous game but it's what we signed up for."

Karlos Dansby: "We'll be counting to five Mississippi before 2012."

What's your take?

By Cindy Boren  | October 20, 2010; 10:31 AM ET
Categories:  NFL  
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I think if these guys learn how to properly tackle, you'll see change. Head up and wrap around. See who you are hitting. Not flying missles.

Posted by: Handsome_John_Pruitt | October 20, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

If they're serious about keeping people from getting hurt, then they should get rid of the pads and the helmet. The original idea of the pads and helmet were to protect the players, but it turns out all they do is let them hit each other harder.

Posted by: Matte | October 20, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Is not leading with your head so difficult? Big hits are different than cheap shots.

Posted by: rfe18 | October 20, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Boohoo for that thug Harrison. Between Rapistberger and Harrison, they should shut down that sleazy organization.

Posted by: bflorhodes | October 20, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

This is Pro football not Pee-Wee football. Taking the hard hits out of football would be like taking uppercuts out of boxing. It's obvious when someone who has never played football comments about "not hitting with their head"..Your head happens to be connected with your shoulders and when two humans are moving 25 MPH, it's hard to put the shoulders and head in a specific spot every time. Football is a dangerous sport. It IS a combat sport like boxing and MMA. Those who engage in it now the risk and accept it. The Pro's getting hit don't want it to change, it's the wimps on the stands who now want to fememize football like everything else.

Posted by: tank1906 | October 20, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Remind James Harrison's that we will probably miss him for 10 minutes or so, then a competent player will take his place.

Posted by: Justlistening | October 20, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Yes it is a brutal,violent.full contact sport etc but its not a FATAL sport.

Posted by: Badwisky | October 20, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Most nascar drivers were against the Han's device until they realized it started saving lives. I know most of these hits aren't life threatening, but if further policing keeps one person from being paralysed for life or worse, than it will be worth the trouble.

Bottom line it is the owners who are protecting there assets, and future liability issues down the road when these severly concussed players can't even function for themselves.

Posted by: Wayneg7580 | October 20, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Good Riddance Harrison.

Posted by: paul6554 | October 20, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Let them play football. They make the big bucks, and they know the risk. If you want to protect the players, don't throw across the middle. Or just make it two-hand touch.

Posted by: burgess7911 | October 20, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Harrison is a system player for the steelers defense only.

Good riddance. His defiance on multiple issues is tiring and anemic. Be gone.

Posted by: emw2u | October 20, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Let them play football. Goodell is just trying to justify going to an 18 game schedule.

Posted by: thorhero | October 20, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Hard hitting is part of the game. Now it does give you a queezy feeling when someone gets knocked out cold on their feet, but it's no different than seeing a man's eyes roll back after a lights out punch in boxing. No Hard Knocks, no end zone celebrations, what the heck is the commissioner doing? And then the owners want to lock the players out because they are making too much money? They are going to drive the fans away and then the whole money train will come to a complete halt.

Posted by: Carole5520 | October 20, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

I have no interest in watching arena football..... This is a JOKE

Posted by: Capitalist-1 | October 20, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

It's stupid knee-jerk, PC move by the NFL. The tackle that took out DeSean Jackson was absolutely legal. Can't even believe the defender drew a penalty much less a fine.

If the NFL is truly concerned about player safety, they'll never consider a longer season. 18 games is asinine. Sure let's take out the vicious-but-legal hits and kill the players via attrition over 18 games. The NFL season is already close to 12 month as it is. Make the regular season 18 games and you'll pretty much be starting OTA right after the super bowl.

Posted by: tundey | October 20, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Steelers and Ravens are most likely to be impacted by the change. Hard-hitting defense is their brand. Go James! But don't retire over this crap, please.

Posted by: webg | October 21, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

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