I can remember hearing my father throw fits in regards to a Steeler quarterback named Mark Malone, which would have been 1984. So, I am going to go and estimate that I have been a fan of the NFL for the last 26 years. I have seen the game change in good ways, and bad. I’ve heard penalties and terminologies, such as “spearing” and “clipping” fade off into oblivion. I can remember bone crushing highlight videos that came with my yearly subscription to Sports Illustrated, that detailed 60 minutes worth of the most jarring hits caught on film (they were awesome by the way). But never, and I mean never, have I ever been as disgusted with the way this game has been changed, as I am this year.
About a week before Super Bowl XL, I made the James Harrison “Deebo” design, because he was my favorite player. Joey Porter had coined the nickname during Monday Night Football introductions in 2005. They let players do the player intros instead of the booth guys that year, and Joey made a glorious mockery out of the situation. Joey called James “Deebo” in reference to Tiny Lester’s character in the movie “Friday”. The comparison in attitude seemed to fit like a glove, and James really did look like Deebo…so, as soon as I had the skills to make the tee, I did. And then James ran back an interception for 100 yards in the Super Bowl…the rest is history.
So the reason for these two paragraphs is to explain two things. I LOVE the NFL and the game of football. And secondly, James Harrison is still my favorite player. He was before he won any Super Bowl, or was awarded NFL Defensive Player of the Year. He won me over in ’02 and ’03 with his special teams play. He was intense, freakishly built, competitive, and passionate, with complete disregard for personal safety (notice I said personal). When I was taught how to play football at 10 years old, the coaches taught us how to square up and tackle with our shoulders. I learned over the years that if I drove into the numbers, and lifted with my legs, the player would leave the ground, and I could slam him to the grass, just like in NFL films from SI. Every year, the coaches went CRAZY. They loved it. Hell, everyone loved it. I loved football. I loved the aggressiveness, the violence, and especially the fact that not everyone wasn’t built for it. So does James…you can kind of tell. He has something to prove, and he is willing to sacrifice his body for it. He loves the game…anyone who was cut by the Baltimore Birdies special teams, and still continued to go for it, LOVES the game.
So why, Goodell and your Referee Minions, did you need to find a poster boy for your new rule agenda? Why did you need one at all? And why James? Just make your ridiculous rules, and apply them to EVERYONE. We just celebrated the guy for his tenacity, aggressiveness, and dedication 2 years ago…and now you are going to fine him 4 times for hits that he has been doing for 8 years. Does this have to do with his lack of maturity and bad reputation in high school, or does the obvious chip on his shoulder scare you into thinking what he is actually capable of? I have been watching this game with tactical knowledge for years, and I see hits like that ALL of the time, and I just saw some last week, and nothing was flagged, and no one was fined on Monday. Are you like a child in Elementary school with selective hearing and seeing?? Do you want to haze this guy out of the league for some reason? What is your freaking agenda Rog? Anyone who has played this game has been taught how to tackle in the way I listed above…square up, lower shoulder, drive through the numbers (with your shoulder), wrap your arms, knock the opponent down. One thing that happens with this style is the more than occasionally; your helmet strikes the crown, or side of the facemask of your opponent. This gives you something that all aggressive players of the game want…gashes and paint on your helmet. Do you want the player to be injured? No. Do you want to look and be tough, and send a message to that player and that team? Your damn skippy you do. You wanna know why? Because that’s football.
Don’t take this game and the alpha male brutality it was founded on away from us. You CAN protect our present day players from the ills of what Jim McMahon is going through right now in other ways than changing the entire game as we know it. Anyone who has played a game like football, hockey, fell off their bike, or got beaten up outside the bar, knows what a concussion feels like. I’ve had 3…you can kind of tell. They are horrible, and scary. So am I saying that I want Josh Cribbs to get his bell rung and potentionally have his career shortened? Of course not, and no one who supports Harrison would want that. What we are saying is that you CAN’T police these hits, it’s impossible. You can’t demonize a player and make him your poster boy. This is not TMZ dealing with Brittany Spears. Don’t build James up, and tear him down…he was on the damn special teams for 5 years, and he’s been cut 3 times, I would say he is sensitive to criticism. He has also done everything his coaches and family has taught him to do. He plays with passion, aggression, fights through adversity, and he is out there to win for his team, not make sure everyone is OK, and happy with his actions. This is no AYSO soccer.
James was born exactly 4 months after me in 1978, about 3 hours from where I’m sitting. I’m sure his coaches told him how to play this game that same that mine did. No coach I ever had said to hurt my opponent…but they weren’t unhappy when they saw a gash in your helmet.
Don’t take this game away from us…and please, support our local linebacker. We don’t want him to go too.
PS – Since I just made this the longest description for a t shirt ever, how are a few more sentences full of spiteful ramblings going to hurt…
Is anyone listening to Merril Hoge?? He is childhood hero, and strong proponent to the safety of our players. Please read his book, and understand that a huge reason that he retired from severe concussions after 8 years is because Chuck Knoll ran him up the 1 & 2 hole as a fullback for 6 years. Merril ran north and south, lowered his head, and knocking over defenders. And yes, the fullback is an offensive position. Maybe Merril and Mike Allstot should be fined for their hits on defenseless middle linebackers, years ago, just so everyone gets the gist of Rog’s new agenda.
* This design is printed on Anvil ring spun cotton tees. These tees are incredibly soft, comfortable, and flexible. They have a sliming cut, but not enough that it throws off the sizing. Bottom line, these tees will be among your go-to favorite tees.
For more detailed information, including sizing, check them out at Anvils website: