NFL rejects appeal of Harrison's suspension
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The National Football League Friday upheld the one-game suspension of Steelers linebacker James Harrison , who will not play Monday night in San Francisco against the 49ers.
Harrison appealed the suspension -- the result of a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy Dec. 8 -- Wednesday to NFL-NFLPA officer Ted Cottrell , who Friday morning sided with the league.
Harrison's play has been under scrutiny since last season, when he amassed $100,000 in fines for illegal hits, but, contrary to earlier reports, his suspension is not the first in 25 years for a live game action. The New York Jets Eric Smith was suspended one game in 2008 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on then Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin.
Harrison's suspension, however, is believed to be the result of his being a "repeat offender." After the ruling, Harrison tweeted: "17 games,1000+ snaps, 100+ tackles, 12+sacks and 2 forces [sic] fumbles since my last incident, and I get a suspension for a football play!"
"Surprised? No. Disappointed? Yes," Harrison's agent, Bill Parise, said of the ruling. "We felt the appeal did a commendable job of presenting the facts of the case and thought the facts would prevail.
"The punishment does not fit the crime." Parise added.
Safety Ryan Clark said he is not upset with Harrison for missing the game.
"Heck no. That's ridiculous. ... I have a teammate, I have a friend, who works hard to play this game, who fights weekly, day-in, day-out to be the best he can be and in doing that, he's going to miss a game. It's not the fact that we have to go and play without him, it's the fact that he has to sit home and watch us play.
"My disappointment is for James," Clark added. "He's been trying really hard to comply with what's being asked of him and, for him to be suspended for this situation, to us, it's disheartening."
Harrison cannot enter the team's practice facility, and Parise said he is working out on his own. He will rejoin the team Tuesday.
Defensive coordinator Dick Le Beau has great admiration for 49ers rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh , who, in his first year, has brought the franchise its first winning season, division title and postseason berth since 2002.
"No question about it, I think he's done an excellent job and I think the offense he runs really suits his quarterback's abilities."
LeBeau coached against Harbaugh in his playing career and sees similarities between Harbaugh and 49ers quarterback Alex Smith .
"In many ways, they're similar as players. Smith's bigger, but they're both great competitors, athletic and can make a lot of plays out in space, and you can see that incorporated in their offense. Really, that's their coach's background, and I think they've obviously done exactly the right thing -- they're 10-3."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was listed as a limited participant in the team's practice report as were wide receiver/special-teams player Arnaz Battle and cornerback Curtis Brown . Safety Troy Polamalu , center Maurkice Pouncey , wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and linebacker Chris Carter did not participate.
First Published December 17, 2011 12:00 am