By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — For the record, even though he’s been out-spoken about the NFL’s recent player fines and rule enforcement, as well as calling those in office a “bunch of pansies,” Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu does not want to fly to New York to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Steelers linebacker James Harrison was asked to do just that Monday and quickly obliged. He said the meeting was somewhat productive and discussed it, as well as other topics Wednesday after practice.
“It was just for him to hear my side of things, my understanding of the rules and for them to (help) me understand exactly what the rules are as far as the concerns with helmet-to-helmet contact,” Harrison said. “So, I spoke my mind.
“They said what they had to say, and I guess it was a semi-productive meeting. (And) I came away with a better understanding, and I think they got a better understanding of how I see things.”
Polamalu added his two cents.
“Sometimes, I just think it falls on deaf ears,” Polamalu said. “I think a lot of players have said a lot of things, and I guarantee that (the Commissioner) heard everything that everybody said. But he’s got all the power, and that might be part of the problem. There needs to be some type of separation of power like our government.
“There should be some players involved on the decisions about how much people should be fined or what they should be fined for, as well as coaches and front-office people. I don’t think it should be totally based on what two or three people may say that are totally away from the game. I think it should be some of the players who are currently playing.”
While Harrison noted that he didn’t know what the end result would be from this meeting, he said it seemed like it was being targeted at times.
“I guess you have to adapt, but it’s not really that much of a change,” Harrison said. “The only thing that I have a real issue with is trying to adjust to an adjustment that an offensive player has already made. That’s what I have an issue with, there being consequences and repercussions for something that (the defensive player) can no longer control.
“If a guy ducks his head at the last minute, right as you’re about to hit him, you can’t really adjust to that. The response was that I’m a defensive player, and I’m responsible for whatever happens when I make contact with an offensive player. So, hopefully, we now have a better understanding.”
Harrison was unaware if he would be fined for his “late” hit on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees that resulted in a roughing-the-quarterback penalty Sunday night, but his teammates chanted several times that since he recently signed a contract worth more than $51 million, he should “pay them in cash.” Harrison was thankful for his teammates’ support.
“It’s what I would you expect from my teammates,” Harrison said. “(And) it’s not like I did anything blatant or was trying to injure someone, so it’s what I expect from my teammates.
“And I would do the same for them. … There’s going to be certain circumstances where you might back off from a certain play when you consider what the outcome might be.”
The Steelers Nation also has strongly supported the linebacker with some making donations to send to Goodell.
“It’s great, but it’s really not about the money,” Harrison said. “It’s about the actual act of fining me. The amount is not the issue. You’re fining me for what I didn’t think was an illegal hit.
“That’s the Massaquoi hit. As far as the most recent hit (on Drew Brees), it may have been a little late. So, I can understand and see if I was fined for that. But if it wasn’t for the Massaquoi hit, I don’t think I’ll get a call in concerning the Brees hit.”
As far as his recent actions are concerned, Harrison said he was “dead serious” about retiring, but that comment was made due to a high emotional level.
“I didn’t really have time to do what I needed to do, and that was think about the whole situation,” Harrison added. “So, after sitting back and thinking about it, it wasn’t a good idea. (And) if (the NFL) is watching me that close … half the time I’m coming off a block to get a tackle, I’m coming off a block where I’m being held. But I guess they can’t see that. I don’t know.”
Steelers second-year DE Ziggy Hood assessed his first NFL start. He played about 55 snaps against the Saints.
“I would say I had a solid performance,” Hood said. “I went out there and did my job. I did what I had to do, but it could have been better. I guess that’s what practice is for. I can learn from that game and improve on it in practice this week. I was conditioned (for the extended play) already, just in case I had to stay out there a little bit longer, and I felt good about it.”
Hood rotated between an end spot and nose tackle as well and recorded an assisted tackle.
Note: Veteran DE Brett Keisel practiced and could be available to play at Cincinnati Monday night.