Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 12/29/11

James Harrison is recognized as one of the dirtiest players in the NFL. He was suspended a game this season for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Colt McCoy. He’s committed five illegal hits in three years, and he was fined six times the last two seasons. Harrison even made an illegal hit on Josh Cribbs when the players were teammates in college. But is Harrison a dirty player? Mike Tomlin says no.

Asked during a conference call by the Cleveland media if Harrison is dirty, Tomlin said no. The Steelers coach was then asked to explain the rash of illegal hits by his star linebacker.

“They’re unfortunate plays. I think the circumstances around those plays and all of that’s been well documented. I base my judgment on his quality of play, based on his total body of work, from being around him day to day for the last five years. I can say comfortably that I don’t believe that James Harrison is a dirty player.”

Tomlin believes there are collisions in football and that not all of them will be legal.

I understand where Tomlin is coming from and I agree with him to a certain extent. Sometimes hits are unavoidable if you’re trying to make a play. But Harrison has a pattern of committing helmet-to-helmet hits. If he leads with his shoulder instead of his dome, he’ll avoid them, but he hasn’t changed his style. That’s what makes him dirty, contrary to what Mike Tomlin says.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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