NEW YORK — Heavily fined Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison calls NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a "crook" and a "devil," among other insults, in a magazine article.
The 2008 AP Defensive Player of the Year hasn't been shy about ripping the league after he was docked $100,000 for illegal hits last season. In the August issue of Men's Journal, his rants against Goodell reach another level of wrath.
"If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn't do it," Harrison told the magazine. "I hate him and will never respect him."
His other descriptions of the commissioner include an anti-gay slur, "stupid," "puppet" and "dictator."
If the Steelers had defeated the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl, Harrison said, he would have whispered in Goodell's ear during the trophy ceremony: "Why don't you quit and do something else, like start your own league in flag football?"
Harrison also criticizes other NFL execs, Patriots-turned-commentators Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi ("clowns"), Houston's Brian Cushing ("juiced out of his mind") – and even teammates Rashard Mendenhall and Ben Roethlisberger for their performances in the Super Bowl loss.
Harrison calls the running back a "fumble machine" for his fourth-quarter turnover. Mendenhall said on Twitter on Wednesday he didn't have a problem with what Harrison said "because I know him." But he also included a link to his stats from last season, which show he didn't have a pattern of fumbling.
Of the quarterback's two interceptions, Harrison says: "Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again. Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain't that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does."
Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a statement that he hadn't seen the article or talked to Harrison.
"We will discuss the situation at the appropriate time, when permitted once the labor situation is resolved," he said.
Harrison also questions whether a black player is punished more for a hard hit on a white player than the opposite. Beyond the insults, Harrison makes some serious points about what he believes are the league's misguided attempts to increase safety.
He explains how non-guaranteed contracts make players more likely to hit high, because in the short term, a torn knee ligament is more costly than a concussion.
Harrison suggests the real way to prevent head injuries is to shorten the season to 14 games, start offseason workouts later and trim the length of training camp so "we're not bangin' heads so much in August; that's where the brain trauma comes from."