Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison blasted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, along with several others affiliated with the NFL, including some of his own teammates, according to reports.
ESPN reports that the former Defensive Player of the Year honoree verbally lashed out on Goodell during an interview with Men’s Journal; statements from the interview, recorded in May, was released in a feature story in the magazine’s August issue.
Harrison is quoted as calling Goodell “stupid,” a “crook,” “dictator” and even “the devil.”
“If that man was on fire and I had to [urinate] to put him out, I wouldn't do it," Harrison told Men's Journal. "I hate him and will never respect him."
Harrison has held a personal grudge with Goodell dating back to last season when the 33-year-old linebacker was fined several times for a combined total of $100,000 during the league’s attempt to crack down on unnecessary hits to the head/neck region of players. He believes he was unfairly characterized as the poster boy for unclean hits in the NFL; according to ESPN, he also questioned whether or not Black players are fined more for hitting White players, as opposed to hitting other African-Americans.
"I slammed Vince Young (a Black quarterback) on his head and paid five grand, but just touched Drew Brees (a White quarterback) and that was 20," Harrison said, according to ESPN.com. "You think Black players don't see this [explicit] and lose all respect for Goodell?"
Harrison also badmouthed other NFL executives and even some former players who now commentate for TV, calling former New England Patriots stars Teddy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison some “clowns.” He criticized some of his teammates, too, including running back Rashard Mendenhall and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the [defense] to bail you out again,” Harrison said of Roethlisberger’s performance in the 2011 Super Bowl.
“Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain't that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does.”
ESPN reports that Harrison reached out to Roethlisberger after news broke of his comments; he claims the writer from Men’s Journal “twisted” his words around and he never meant to publicly criticize his teammate.
Steelers president Art Rooney II told ESPN that he hasn’t read the article, yet or spoke to Harrison.
"We will discuss the situation at the appropriate time,” Rooney said, “when permitted once the labor situation is resolved.”