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Benz: James Harrison….The Moderate voice on a Roger Goodell matter

TUESDAY-COLUMN

James Harrison can speak about this from an educated point of view. He knows what it is like to get picked apart by Tom Brady. He knows it’s actually possible for Pittsburgh to win in Foxboro if Brady doesn’t play. And he knows what it is like to wrangle with Roger Goodell.

So the quotes he gave Monday about the looming DeflateGate ruling…and how he gave them…spoke volumes even though Harrison granted them in his usual taciturn way.

When asked for his opinion on what Federal Judge Richard Berman may do, this is what the linebacker flatly stated: “I don’t see what a federal judge can do with something the players signed in the CBA which gives Roger Goodell the power to do what he wants to do. So if he is going by the letter of what it says then there is nothing he can do.”

Interesting. Finally a Steeler suggesting that Brady’s suspensions should still hold. That’s what they have to REALLY be thinking. All that “we just want to measure ourselves against the best” stuff looked good in print out in Latrobe when various players were quoted about maybe missing Brady in the season opener on September 10th. But getting Jimmy Garapollo in his first start instead of a first ballot Hall of Famer? Come on! Who wouldn’t want that?

Hold on for a second, though. James Harrison backing Goodell’s universal power? The same James Harrison who famously groused about that topic in Men’s Journal and called Roger Goodell “a crook”, the “devil”, a “puppet”, and a “dictator.” He’s on Goodell’s side here?

So I asked for clarification. Again Harrison’s response: “Remember…I voted no on the CBA.”

Indeed. Touche, James. Touche.

Say what you will once the DeflateGate ruling comes down. And Lord knows, we all will. But I can’t imagine Harrison is alone here. Most players I’ve talked to (some former, some current) are of the same mindset-”Yeah, he’s Brady. Yeah, the Pats may have cheated before. But he’s in the union. We are in the union. And we want to see the union fight for every player. Just make sure the next guy gets as much of a fight on his behalf.”

Yeah, don’t count on that last part. But the premise has a nice ring to it.

That being said, I’m willing to bet Harrison isn’t alone on a island here. There have to be others in his camp. This is a high profile case, and if Brady/NFLPA lose, a message has to be sent the next time the collective bargaining agreement comes up:

“GET MORE CONTROL BACK FROM GOODELL!”

Only the Steeler players seemed to get that the last time the CBA vote came around in 2011. They voted against it. Every other team passed it. Some in other markets (and this one) were critical of the Steelers for doing so because it came off as whining over Goodell’s stiff suspension of Ben Roethlisberger without any charges and his heavy-handed approach to fines against the Steelers for helmet-to-helmet hits.

That sure looks like a pretty even response now to a lot of players I bet.

It is understandable why the players may be torn on what they want to see from Berman. There are those banging the union drum, rooting for Brady to be acquitted. There are those who have resentment towards the Pats for their transgressions (real, imagined, or accused) and are jealous of the team’s championships and Brady’s success.

And then there are those, like Harrison, that just want to see consistency within the rules regardless of which player in the union is being put under Goodell’s thumb.

James Harrison…the moderate voice on a Roger Goodell matter. DeflateGate truly has tipped the football world on its ear.

About The Author

Tim Benz

TIOPS Columnist

Tim Benz can be heard on the Pittsburgh Steelers Radio Network post game show and M-F 10-1 on TribLive Radio

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