NFL regrets photo 'mistake'
The NFL made a "mistake" having photos of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison's hit on Cleveland Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi available for sale through its website and will take the photos down, spokesman Greg Aiello said Wednesday.
Harrison was fined $75,000 for the hit. Pittsburgh television station KDKA first reported that the photos were for sale.
"We regret the mistake," Aiello said. "The photos will be taken down and we will ensure that no photos of illegal plays will be available again. An outside vendor uses an automated process to post photos for sale to fans. We will fix the process immediately."
Harrison said Wednesday morning he was aware of the photos.
"I guess they want to get their money on the front end and the back end," he complained in an interview with Sirius XM's "Mad Dog Radio."
The NFL is cracking down on illegal hits to the head, vowing to suspend players for infractions starting with this weekend's games.
In the past, players were either fined or ejected for illegal hits. However, after the series of recent flagrant tackles, several of which resulted in concussions, the NFL ramped up the punishment.
Football operations chief Ray Anderson indicated the suspensions could start immediately -- that is, involving play from last weekend's games. However, Aiello said the league wanted to give teams fair warning and would send a memo Wednesday, outlining the changes.
Mike & Mike in the Morning
ESPN NFL analyst Jon Gruden says the NFL will always be a violent game with violent hits. Many times receivers aren't sitting down against zone coverage, which causes them to run right into big hits.
The NFL, which also fined New England Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather and Atlanta Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson $50,000 each for hits on Sunday, noted Harrison is a repeat offender; he was fined $5,000 for unnecessary roughness in Pittsburgh's win over Tennessee on Sept. 19.
In letters to the three players, Anderson said: "Future offenses will result in an escalation of fines up to and including suspension."
In an appearance on Fox Sports Radio, Harrison said he planned to talk to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and was contemplating whether he could continue to play in the NFL.
"I'm going to sit down and have a serious conversation with my coach tomorrow and see if I can actually play by NFL rules and still be effective," Harrison said. "If not, I may have to give up playing football."
He was excused from practice Wednesday but Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he expected Harrison back Thursday.
Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, called the fine "staggering" and said it would be appealed. He emphasized that neither play drew a penalty.
"I've talked to James, and he's very upset," Parise said. "He's quite confused about how to play football."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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