One of the most notorious opponents the Cleveland Browns have faced as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers was James Harrison. He was fined for any number of hits he had against players for the Browns, but one of the more ferocious was the hit he had on Browns receiver Mohammed Massaquoi. As a guest on Willie Colon's podcast, "Going Deep", Harrison brought told up a story that hadn't been previously known regarding that hit.
Harrison was fined for hit hit on Massaquoi and had to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about how to tackle opponents without maiming them.
When Harrison spoke on this incident, first, he used it to brag up his admittedly incredible strength, saying to Colon:
"Listen, on everything I love, on my daddy’s grave, I hit that man with about 50 percent of what I had and I just hit him because I wanted him to let loose of the ball. If i had knew they was gonna fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him."
What Harrison said next raises a few additional questions.
"Dude, I’m telling you, 75? And I ain’t gonna lie to you, when that happened, right? the G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that. I ain’t gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that."
Did Tomlin pay Harrison? Did Tomlin pay Harrison for knocking Massaquoi out of the game? Did he give him money to pay off an imminent fine? What Harrison is asserting is along the same lines as bounty gate, which resulted in substantial suspensions for the New Orleans Saints.
First and foremost, unless someone else can confirm this story, it's unlikely the NFL does anything. But for a coach like Mike Tomlin, who always enjoys favored status among coaches, being regarded as a virtuous coach and a moral compass within the NFL, the amount of incidents with him continue to increase.
When it came to the brawl with the Cleveland Browns that was sparked by Myles Garrett and Mason Rudolph, Tomlin has refused to accept any responsibility. He famously 'accidentally' was on the field to force a Baltimore Ravens kick returner to avoid him, preventing a touchdown.
Perhaps Harrison is exaggerating for effect, but that's never really been his style. He's gone through plenty in his life that needs no artistic license. Tomlin still coaches the Steelers and probably should face questions about this, even if he's likely to just deny anything and move on from the situation.
UPDATE: Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal reached out to the Pittsburgh Steelers for comment and received the following:
"I am very certain nothing like like this has ever happened. I have no idea why James would make a comment like this, but there is no basis for believing anything like this." - Steelers President Art Rooney II
RELATED: Sean Payton on Harrison claim: "That’ll Be Something That’s Tucked Away Under The Rug At Park Avenue."