NFL players prepare for tougher enforcement of rules; Harrison returns to Steelers
Updated at 9:42 a.m.
Linebacker James Harrison has returned to the Pittsburgh Steelers' practice facility, after being excused from Wednesday's practice while he mulled retirement.
Filed at 7:39 a.m.
The NFL's defensive players are preparing for a weekend of games in which their play will face more rigorous scrutiny as the NFL cracks down on dangerous and illegal hits. Not all of them are happy about it and one, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has threatened retirement after being fined $75,000 for his play Sunday.
Harrison's reaction to the cultural shift was the most extreme among NFL players who reacted negatively to the NFL's crackdown on dangerous plays after a Sunday littered with them. (Video of reactions is here; photo gallery of Sunday's injuries here; LaVar Arrington's take here.)
Coach Mike Tomlin said he had "a very productive conversation" with Harrison on Wednesday. "I thought it was beneficial to him and us if I give him a little time to cool off and give him the day. I excused him at that time. I'm sure he'll be back in the building and ready to play football [today].
"Needless to say, this is a very emotional thing for James. He's a very disciplined and regimented guy. He's passionate about the game of football. It bothers him that he may be perceived as a dirty player. He doesn't desire to be. Simply wants to play the game and play it well."
On Tuesday, Harrison said he might have to retire because of the NFL's edict mandating suspensions and fines for helmet-to-helmet and dangerous hits, a threat his agent said was a real one.
"I'm going to sit down and have a serious conversation with my coach ... and see if I can actually play by NFL rules and still be effective," Harrison said on Fox Sports Radio's "Into The Night with Tony Bruno. "If not, I may have to give up playing football."
Harrison was not penalized on plays that knocked two Cleveland Browns players, Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs, out of the game with concussions.
"I really truly hope it's something that can be done," said Harrison. "But the way that things were being explained to me today 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."
| October 21, 2010; 7:39 AM ET
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