Surprise, surprise. James Harrison's not retiring after all. He sure had me fooled!
The diva/LB who openly worried about how he would do his job is back at Steeler practice today, just one day after he "threatened" to retire. Call me jaded, but I've never seen a retirement threat taken less seriously than the one offered up by Harrison. Was there really anyone who believed that Harrison would walk away? Because on the surface, this looked simply like the proverbial kid who took his ball and threatened to go home.
Nonetheless, I still think it was a wise decision by Mike Tomlin to give Harrison the day off yesterday. Nothing, repeat, NOTHING good could've come from giving Harrison any availability to the media, although it's worth noting that Harrison usually gives less to the local guys and more to the national (as seen again with the Fox interview that started all of this). If he would've talked in his apparently-emotional state, this story could've blown up even bigger than it already is, if that's even possible.
Look, I get Harrison's frustration. And I'm pretty ticked at the NFL myself right now, because once again, a Steeler is the poster child for what not to do, following in the footsteps of Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, and Mel Blount. But walking away from your profession is not the right answer. I'm glad someone talked some sense into #92, for his own sake. Pro football will go on with or without him.
This weekend will be a fascinating one to watch in the NFL. Defenders will be confused about how they should tackle offensive players. Referees will be fumbling over the rules in an effort to enforce them the way the league feels fit at the moment. And guess what? Players are still going to get hurt. Badly.
The league is run by teams of lawyers, and after a brutal weekend of football that left a player paralyzed at Rutgers, they see the writing on the wall. The day will come when a player is killed on the field, and the NFL wants to have every safeguard in place to say that they tried to prevent it. And once again, call me cynical, but I believe they're more interested in protecting their brand than protecting the players. Death is bad for business. And to the "protecting the players" point, if they were so concerned about their well-being, they wouldn't extend the season by two games.
The NFL wants to have their cake and eat it, too. That might be possible, but it's going to be a long, confusing journey to get from Point X to Point Y. And your first glimpse of that confusing journey comes Sunday.