James Harrison Criticizes Official, NFL Promptly Fines Him $20K

During Sunday night's Steelers-Jaguars tilt, Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison was flagged for a late hit on quarterback David Garrard. One problem: it wasn't late. Harrison also didn't lead with his helmet, and in case you're wondering, he wasn't guilty of driving Garrard to the turf, either. No matter, referee Ron Winter still called the penalty, extending the fourth-quarter drive.

After the game, Harrison, who also answers to "Silverback" and "Deebo" (presumably due to his sunny on-field disposition), pretty much guaranteed he'd be receiving one of those "please pay by" letters from the league office when he told the media:

"It was the most unbelievable penalty I've ever seen in my life... If they're going to go and send me a letter saying they're going to fine me for unnecessary-whatever he called, I believe that is not a penalty. And when it comes down to it these refs should start getting fined for making bad calls. ...

You don't make a call like that. Unless (the official) might have money on it."

I'm guessing it was that last quote that led to the eventual garnish-ying of Harrison's wages; FOXSports.com's Jay Glazer writes that Harrison is out $20,000 after his post-game suggestions.

The comments, apparently, were less egregious than those made by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, but five grand worse than those of Saints head coach Sean Payton after a no-call cost his team a chance at a win over the Broncos several weeks ago.

I get why the NFL has to levy fines -- no matter how bad the officiating, having owners, coaches and players bellyaching about it publicly doesn't solve anything. That said,routinely getting the easy calls right -- like Harrison's alleged late hit, or this no call (or, hell, this one) -- would be nice. Plus, it would free Ed Hochuli up to actually practice law instead of responding to angry e-mails.

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