BENZ: James Harrison's envelope story is just plain dumb, on multiple levels

(Greensburg) Tribune-Review (TNS)
James Harrison

Back in a different lifetime — a fuzzy, faded memory known as 2014 — I used to host “The X Morning Show” on 105.9 The X.

My cohost/producer, Bob McLaughlin, and I used to produce a weekly bit called “Dumb, Dumber, Dumberest.”

It was essentially a collection of the dumbest audio clips, segments, phone calls, interviews and bits from the previous week.

We’d do it every Wednesday, and it was always the most fun segment of our week. To this day, I still get people asking me about a way to bring it back on “Breakfast With Benz.”

Don’t rule it out. In the coronavirus era, we may have to get creative.

I thought of that segment this week while reading about the James Harrison “envelope” story.

In case you missed it, last week the former Steeler recorded an episode of the “Going Deep” podcast with one-time teammate Willie Colon.

During the taping, Harrison asserted that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin handed him “an envelope” after he was fined $75,000 for his 2010 hit on Browns receiver Mohammed Massaquoi.

The implication being that Tomlin covered his fine. Or, at least, a portion of it.

Dumb, James! It actually appears that Harrison — a longtime critic of Tomlin’s — was attempting to make Tomlin seem like a player-friendly coach in that quote.

Really, though, all he did was implicate Tomlin for doing something against league rules.

If this story even happened at all — which the team and Harrison’s then-agent Bill Parise deny — do we really think Tomlin stuffed 750 $100 bills into an envelope and handed it to James Harrison?


Now, is it possible that Harrison’s teammates passed the hat in the locker room and took up a collection for Harrison?

Absolutely. I’m not saying that happened here. But it does happen in locker rooms on occasion.

Is it also possible that the collection was taken upstairs to Mike Tomlin’s office so Tomlin could give it to Harrison?


Did Tomlin even contribute himself?

Who knows.

What I do know is this: If the players did such a thing, they were naive. Don’t ask a coach to sanction something like that. You’re putting him in a bad spot. When you do that, it looks like an organizationally approved event. And if Tomlin cosigned, then he was silly for thinking he wouldn’t be connected.

And — above all else —Harrison is a jerk for violating the code of the locker room by even referencing it all these years later.

Dumber, James! If any of this actually happened at all.

The NFL has to dig into this tale now, to some degree or another. They have to do so because Harrison was insane enough to say it on tape.

C’mon, Steeler fans. Be honest. If Vontaze Burfict claimed Marvin Lewis covered his fine for concussing Antonio Brown, you’d be enraged if the NFL refused to conduct due diligence.

So an investigation should be forthcoming. And I understand why. But Sean Payton’s recent passive-aggressive response was pathetic.

I appreciate the New Orleans Saints coach being prickly about anything remotely smelling like “Bountygate.”

But spare me. As even Harrison points out, that’s not what this was.

If true, this wasn’t Tomlin paying a guy under the table as a reward for hurting an opposing player. In a worst-case scenario that, for now, is just an unproven story, this would be a coach covering a fine after the fact.

Not the same thing, Sean. Give it a rest.

Dumberest, James! OK. That’s a good start. Next week’s episode will probably include Blake Snell, whoever came up with the idea to attach draft picks to the Rooney Rule expansion and the brains behind the “pipe crowd noise into NFL broadcasts” movement.