Former Steelers LB James Harrison: Mike Tomlin 'never paid me' to hurt another player

(Greensburg) Tribune-Review (TNS)
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison and the NFL may square off again over Harrison's potential violation of the league's gambling policy.

James Harrison still isn’t saying what was in the envelope he alleges Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin gave him in 2010 after receiving a $75,000 fine.

But the former linebacker said Friday the contents were not a reward for knocking Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi from the game a decade ago.

Writing on his verified Instagram account, Harrison said no comparisons should be drawn to the Bountygate scandal involving the New Orleans Saints that led to a year-long suspension for coach Sean Payton in 2012.

“Mike T. has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY!” Harrison wrote. “If you knew the full story of what happened back then you’d know that BS fine for a Legal Play wasn’t even penalized during the game.”

Harrison was not flagged on the play in the October 2010 game against the Browns in which he leveled Massaquoi, knocking the wide receiver from the game. Massaquoi suffered a concussion.

As a repeat offender, Harrison was docked $75,000 for the hit, although his agent, Bill Parise, told the Tribune-Review on Thursday the amount later was reduced by the NFL.

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin listens to a question while meeting with reporters following a 26-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

Parise also told the Trib that Harrison never received any compensation from Tomlin to assist in covering the fine.

“Absolutely not. Never happened,” Parise said. “I would have known that. It didn’t happen.”

The Massaquoi hit and the $75,000 fine resurfaced this week during an interview Harrison did with former teammate Willie Colon on Barstool’s “Going Deep” podcast.

“The G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did. He handed me an envelope after that,” Harrison told Colon. “I’m not going to say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.”

Steelers president Art Rooney II issued a statement Thursday denying Harrison’s accusation, saying “I am certain nothing like this ever happened.”

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Tribune-Review on Friday the league “will decline comment.”

Payton also stoked the flames on the issue in a radio interview Thursday when he revisited the bountygate scandal that alleged he and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had a payment system in place from 2009-11 for hits that injured opposing players.

“If people are waiting for the league to investigate (Tomlin), they shouldn’t hold their breath,” Payton told 105.7 in Baltimore. “I think what took place with us back in (2012) in so many ways was a sham, and yet there wasn’t a lot we could do with it.”

Payton also said he would be “shocked” if the NFL investigates the Steelers.

“That’ll be something that’s tucked away under the rug (at NFL headquarters) at Park Avenue,” he said.

In his Instagram post, Harrison said the NFL was “pressured” into levying such a hefty fine in 2010 “because the first concussion lawsuits were starting and they had to look like they cared about player safety all of a sudden.”

“Before that, they had been SELLING a photo of THAT SAME PLAY for $55 on the NFL website with other videos of the NFL’s GREATEST HITS that the league profited on back then. When the league had to start pretending like they cared about player safety, they took all those things down off their website and they started fining guys ridiculous amounts for the same plays they used to profit off of.

“EVERYBODY knew it — even these same media people and all the fans that were sending money to me and the team to cover the fine. AGAIN AT NO TIME did Mike T. EVER suggest anybody hurt anybody or that they’d be rewarded for anything like that.”