Reporting Daryl Ruiter
PITTSBURGH (92.3 The Fan) – Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison could be facing a suspension following a helmet to helmet hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy Thursday night and the NFL is looking into how the Browns handled it.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that the NFL is considering suspending Harrison one or two games for the hit which gave McCoy a concussion.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did not elaborate on any potential punishment for Harrison during a conversation with reporters in Detroit Sunday.
“Our staff is going to be looking at that play along with every other play that happens this weekend, and they’ll make their decisions,” Goodell said.
The NFL as well as the NFL Players Association is looking into whether or not the Browns followed the league’s guidelines and proper procedures before they let McCoy return to the game two plays later.
McCoy, who also suffered an injury to his left hand on the hit, didn’t begin experiencing concussion-like symptoms until after the game according to the Browns.
During his post game presser in Pittsburgh, TV reporters were asked to turn off the lights on their cameras as to not bother McCoy. He appeared dazed and his eyes were glassy raising questions as to why the Browns allowed him back into the game.
On Friday Browns coach Pat Shurmur defended the decision to allow McCoy to return saying that the team followed the league’s guidelines for diagnosing potential concussions.
“Absolutely, we follow the guidelines strictly,” Shurmur said. “I’m very confident that that happened.”
Chris Mortenson of ESPN reported that the Browns did not administer the standard SCAT2 concussion test until Friday morning – and not Thursday night on the sideline.
Earlier in the game fullback Owen Marecic and tight end Ben Watson both sustained concussions and were immediately ruled out by the Browns, who have followed the leagues rules to the letter of the law this season.
McCoy’s father Brad McCoy told Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer on Friday that his son did not remember what happened after the hit by Harrison and that the team erred in allowing McCoy to play.
Shurmur was adamant Friday that McCoy did not exhibit concussion-like symptoms on the sideline so he was allowed to return.
“These concussions or concussion-like symptoms they’re different,” Shurmur said. “They can happen immediately or they can happen hours or a day later. If he would’ve shown symptoms of a concussion then I wouldn’t have put him back in the game. It would’ve been out of my hands anyways because I would’ve been told he can’t go back in the game.
“If he had the symptoms, he wouldn’t not have gone back in the game. Absolutely not.”
Clearly McCoy wasn’t the same after returning to the game.
He was flagged for intentional grounding on his first play back and then tried to find Mohamed Massaquoi in the end zone on the next snap, but William Gay easily stepped in front of it for an interception that all but sealed the game.
As for Harrison’s hit, Shurmur bit his tongue and he is glad his football team kept their cool as well.
“I think it was rightly penalized,” Shurmur said. “I think that there was plenty of response from our team but to go out and compound and do something silly we don’t want that.
“I have strong feelings about that that I’m not going to share.”
Replays showed Harrison lowered his head and raised his forearm as he measured the hit on McCoy.
Harrison has a lengthy history with helmet-to-helmet hits. He was fined a total of $120,000 in 2010 for several illegal hits including to Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi during a game at Pittsburgh.
Once again., Harrison feels he did nothing wrong.
“From what I understand, once the quarterback leaves the pocket, he’s considered a runner,” Harrison said after the game. “All the defenseless[ness] and liberties that a quarterback has in the pocket are gone and you can tackle him just as he’s a running back.
“The hit wasn’t late, so I really don’t understand why it was called.”
That is why Harrison not only should be fined but suspended because the NFL just lightening his wallet every time that he illegally lays a player out is not getting the message through to him.
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