Bouchette on the Steelers: It's Week 10 and Harrison still at zero

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The list of those Steelers fined for various infractions on the field is long and meritorious, a group of 11 players who have been fined 13 times for a total of $182,500.

At least those are the ones we know about, because even though the NFL's purpose for leveling these fines is to try to make the game safer, they make it difficult to find out who is fined on a weekly basis and why. Usually, it has to come from the player.

The league would do well to look into how the NHL reports fines and explains them -- the hockey people do it on their web site with a video of the play in question and an explanation of the fine.

There is, however, an upset of sorts contained in the long line of Steelers fined this season. None is named James Harrison. Although ESPN reported that Harrison "likely" would be fined for a hit on Baltimore's Ray Rice, it never came. He was fined $125,000 by the NFL last season, a figure later reduced to $100,000. He has 0 in 2011.

"I haven't done anything deserving of a fine," Harrison said, noting he has not altered his style to fit any new rules. "I haven't changed anything. It's just a few plays here and there where they may adjust differently to what I felt they were and they came up with a different outcome than I came up with. Right now, those circumstances aren't happening. I haven't done anything to be targeted or anything that was borderline."

Even though Harrison's pocketbook has not been picked by the NFL, the Steelers are angry again about the discipline the NFL has meted out. One member of the organization said all the fines by the NFL has turned attention away from football and on all the fines issued during the week. They even fined Doug Legursky $10,000 for clipping. Soon, they'll be tossing out fines for false starts.

It even prompted coach Mike Tomlin to issue a statement showing support for Ryan Clark's $40,000 fine (Clark has replaced Harrison as the leader in the clubhouse with $65,000 in fines this season, all in the past two games).

"It's turned into a game of fines. It's not what football used to be," Harrison said. "Right now, you can't hit a guy, and the way they want you to hit a guy, they'd rather me hit a guy in his knee and blow out his ACL, tear his knee up vs. hitting him up high and maybe knocking him out, giving him a concussion, whatnot. They say that's a life-threatening injury. That's true, it may be down the line. But if you hit a guy and you blow out his knee and you take away the only way he has to feed his family, I mean I consider that life threatening to him, his kids, his wife, whoever else he has to take care of.

"I don't agree with it, I kind of believe if you would ask the majority of guys who play this game what their opinion was, I think you'd get a lot of people who feel the same way. Me, personally, if anyone has a shot at me and I don't see you coming, and you get a fine, if you hit me high rather than hit me low, hit me high and I will pay your fine."

The width and breadth of Joe Paterno

A snippet from one of my PG Plus Blog items the past week:

Sad day all around these parts of Pennsylvania, for many reasons. Some of you around the country who have no ties to Pennsylvania other than you are Steelers fans might not understand how big a story this is going on at Penn State.

The Steelers offered Joe Paterno their head coaching job in 1969, before they went to their next candidate, Chuck Noll. That's how big Paterno was after just three years on the job. Here we are 42 years later and he's been fired in disgrace. That's not the saddest part, though. The saddest part is what took place that led to his firing.

Many a Penn State man will be affected by this, and there have been many who have come through the Steelers, worked for them, and who cover them for newspapers, radio and TV. It's a shocking turn of events that no one ever dreamed could happen there.

For the most part, I grew up in Pennsylvania and generally admired Paterno. I attended his football camp the summer he got the head coaching job, 1966, somewhere in the middle of the woods in the middle of nowhere around Oil City, Pa. His whole staff was there. Through the years, I interviewed him and talked to hm and we actually reminisced a little bit about that camp, which long ago was moved to the Penn State campus.

His phone number was listed in the phone book in State College. When Miami and Virginia Tech left the Big East, I was covering that meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for the Post-Gazette. I decided to get Paterno's take on the whole thing, called information for State College and got his number. I dialed and a woman answered. It was Sue Paterno. We chatted for a long time, and then she took my number and said she'd give it to Joe when he returned. Next morning, while I was brushing my teeth, my cellphone rang and it was Paterno.

I'll bet the next Penn State coach doesn't have his phone number listed. Too bad Joe didn't use that phone to call the police nine years ago.

An early holiday gift idea

With Christmas bearing down and local books popping up, here's an easy stocking-stuffer for those with an interest in local sports, especially those in Fayette County.

George Von Benko, a longtime local broadcaster and sports writer, has put together a collection of stories in a paperback book on some of the great athletes who hailed primarily from Fayette County. It's quite a list that includes football greats Jim Braxton, Johnny Lujack and Uniontown-born Ernie Davis, the latter two Heisman Trophy winners; 800-meter Olympic gold medalist John Woodruff; coaching legends Abe Everhart and Lash Nesser, and many more.

You can find the book, "Memory Lane," at Bradley's Book outlets, and

Ed Bouchette can be reached at .


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