Reporting Jory Rand
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Steelers locker room was buzzing Wednesday with reactions to linebacker James Harrison’s latest fine.
Not much was held back by Steelers players, who appear to feel as if their backs are against the wall on this matter.
The players took aim at the National Football League, Commissioner Roger Goodell, the media and even the NFL Players Association while trying to get their point across.
“They’re hypocrites,” Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said. “You know, you say one thing and you do another. You talk about safety, but you add on two games. You talk about [how] you don’t want players to drink, but our major endorsement is Coors Light. That’s all you see is beer commercials. You say you don’t want us to gamble but then you have spread games online. So for us, as players, we just play football. Whatever the NFL decides to do, we’re gonna do.”
Frustration was at an all-time high for Harrison, one day after he received his fourth fine of the year. The $25,000 fine was for a hit on Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
“The media, y’all control what goes on,” Harrison said. “Y’all are like I said before, y’all are like puppet masters, and y’all control the puppets that make these calls. That’s all. And if y’all going saying that this is unfair, that they’re doing wrong, and the media starts to say this more and more, then I think things will start to change. But until y’all do something about it, I don’t think nothing’s gonna change.”
“Where’s DeMaurice Smith when all this is going on?” Steelers linebacker James Farrior asked. “He’s supposed to be our leader. I haven’t heard him one time.”
This topic seemed to completely overshadow the Steelers’ upcoming game against the Baltimore Ravens and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s sprained foot that had him in a modified shoe at practice today.
“It hurts because it’s my plant foot,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s my right foot. When I hit the ground I wanna get the ball out, and so it makes it tough. [I'm] just, you know, playing through pain.”
Roethlisberger was nearly stationary the entire practice, but he said that he plans to play in Baltimore.
It remains to be seen whether the Harrison situation will become a factor in Sunday night’s Baltimore game.