Blogs | Sports | News
Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Harrison to be suspended?

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Monday column is about Ryan Braun, PED use and why baseball should be applauded for this event rather than panned.

>> The NFL was contemplating a one- or even two-game suspension for James Harrison, per multiple outlets yesterday, but I find it hard to believe it will come to that. His hit on Colt McCoy was illegal, and he has a history. But the hit was so similar to the one for which Ryan Clark was fined $25,000 earlier this season that going all the way to a suspension is quite a step. Clark has a history, too.

Here’s the hit …


The thing that strikes me there is that McCoy still had the ball a split-second before Harrison hits him. Again, yes, the style of hit is illegal. But suspensions have been mostly for flagrant attempts to injure such as the ridiculous stomping by Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh this season. That drew two games. And yeah, Suh, too, came with a history.

>> Wish I knew two months ago about Braun. I wouldn’t have placed him anywhere on my National League MVP ballot, much less second. As it is, I’m delighted to have placed eventual runner-up Matt Kemp of Los Angeles in my top spot.

It would be wonderful if my colleagues in the Baseball Writers Association of America would see fit, even though it’s an extraordinary step, to conduct a re-vote and reward Kemp for his flirtation with the triple crown.

>> Alas, that doesn’t sound likely.

>> Joe Vitale is here to stay. The Penguins had a ton of nice performances Saturday on Long Island, but the most consistent was that of Vitale, who not only is gaining traction as a defensive/penalty-killing presence but also has made some outstanding passes this season.

>> I will make my weekly appearance on TribLIVE Radio at 11:30 a.m. today.

Speaking for myself, I wish I knew two months ago, I wouldn’t have placed Braun anywhere on my MVP ballot, much less second. As it is, I’m delighted to have placed eventual runner-up Matt Kemp of Los Angeles in my top spot. It would be wonderful if my colleagues in the Baseball Writers Association of America would see fit, even though it’s an extraordinary step, to conduct a re-vote and reward Kemp for his flirtation with the triple crown.


  1. Woomer says:

    I’m not saying that the NFL is out to get Harrison or the Steelers or anyone else…that would be absurd to say.

    But, that being said, it would be pretty easy to make a case that the league doles out punishment very inconsistently wrt these new “hitting” rules.

    And while I’m on the subject, how exactly do you successfully “limit” hitting in a sport that’s almost completely based on ……… hitting?

  2. leefoo says:

    Woomer……….I still don’t condone that hit. He could’ve just tackled McCoy ‘normally’, instead of going for the kill shot.


    I hope Matt Kemp gets the MVP. He would’ve gotten MY vote as #1, too.

  3. leefoo says:

    I certainly enjoyed the Texans beating the Bengals on the last play and Tebow, somehow, some way, beating the Bears.

  4. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    I’m not a Tebow hater but he gets too much credit for the efforts of others on his team.

    Prater kicked pressure field goals of 59 (!!!) and 51 yards to win that game for Denver. Denver’s D forces the critical turnover in overtime.

    Yet Tebow seems to get all of the praise and the credit.

    Bunch of idiots running around marveling “Man, that Tebow!”

    Tebow put up 6 points.

  5. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Let me clarify: I’m not calling YOU an idiot, lee…

    But all of the gushing praise for Tebow seems to be from people who are knowledgeable and should know better.

    Tebow accomplished nothing for the first 58 minutes. The Bears made crucial mistakes toward the end, mainly running out of bounds to stop the clock within the last two minutes and then the stripped ball in overtime.

    Denver did not win this game because of Tebow.

  6. John A says:

    leefoo, you shouldn’t have enjoyed the Bengals losing if you’re a Steeler fan. The Texans need to lose a game for the Steelers to be the #1 seed and that may have been their last tough opponent with only Ten at home remaining (Carolina and Indy too). Also, we sure could use Cincy staying in the hunt so that week 17 showdown with Baltimore would mean something more to them than the Ravens. That was an awful ending for any chance at a bye and home field.

  7. JAL says:


    7—Pirates Prospects

    Winter Leagues 12/11 — A Start For Martis, Hits For Navarro

    Deacon Phillippe: By the Numbers

    Trade Values – Mark Trumbo

    8 Rumbunter

    The Almost-Official Guide: Pittsburgh Pirates 22nd Annual PirateFest

    9 McEffect

    Cryin’ Lyin’ Ryan


    10 Bucs Dugout

    Why Trading For Mark Trumbo Is A Bad Idea

  8. JAL says:


    11 USA Today

    Braun’s positive drug test prompts concern for baseball

    12 Forbes

    Albert Pujols Is No LeBron James When Comparing Financial Impacts Upon Spurned Cities

    13 Washington Post

    Price of a pitcher? Tampa Bay Rays get it right

    14 Seattle Times

    The not-so-Hollywood tale of one baseball team’s ongoing 10-year rebuilding plan

  9. JAL says:


    15 IS Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Pompeani Corners Huntington in Radio Interview

    16 Bleacher Report

    Pittsburgh Pirates: How Expendable Is Starling Marte?

  10. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    -Behind the Steel Curtain

    What’s More Important for Steelers Playoff Chances — Fighting for a First Round Bye or Taking Precautionary Measures on the Injury Front?

    Report: NFL Considering Suspension for Steelers LB James Harrison

    -Steelers Depot

    AFL Playoff Picture and Scenarios

    -Steelers Gab

    Apply to Join the Ochocinco News Network (OCNN) and Cover the Super Bowl!

  11. Dan says:

    A few points of opinion about the Harrison hit…

    First is to watch the play only in real-time speed. When you do that, you see that this play happened extremely fast and that it appears McCoy is indeed trying to advance the ball by running with it. So I don’t get roughing the passer because he seemed to be a runner. The fact that he ultimately tried to “throw” the ball seems irrelevant because it happened in the last fraction of a second.

    Second is to consider the hit and the responsibility for the head-to-head collision. Harrison’s job is to tackle the ball carrier for as little positive yardage as possible. The best way to do so is to square up the ball carrier and hit their middle. Harrison does this. McCoy was not a ‘passer’ looking downfield, hence defenseless. He was running forward with his eyes forward, so he had every opportunity to defend himself just like RBs, WRs, and any other runners. He was looking right at Harrison. Why didn’t he try to move at all?? Did he think he would just bowl over Harrison? Or just not athletic enough (despite looking pretty mobile)? My point is, when two people run straight at each other and their heads hit, don’t both share responsibility?

    Lastly, consider Harrison’s options and you tell me (or rather him) what to do. Should Harrison have chosen McCoy’s right or left side and hit him with his shoulder instead? If he did this, McCoy could have then side-stepped to that direction and Harrison could have missed. This seems like a terrible option because – as previously mentioned and despite the NFL’s best wishes – Harrison and other defenders have a job to do too. Ok, what else? Could Harrison have lowered himself so, rather than head-to-head, he could have put his head into McCoy’s chest? Possible, but I’d say no. Again, go look at it real time and you’ll see it happened VERY fast. But also, what if McCoy tried to duck at the last second, as many runners do instinctively? That is essentially what Massaqua did a year ago when he was concussed.

    The NFL needs to understand the difference between a player who is defenseless and one who is not. A QB in the pocket with his eyes downfield leaves his body completely exposed, so understandably and correctly, the NFL has certain rules about how you can and cannot hit the QB in that situation (though the low shot that twisted Ben’s ankle seemed to go unnoticed). A WR in full flight to try to catch a ball, same thing. But a QB who is running forward, looking forward like McCoy was has every opportunity to protect himself.

  12. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    The above Penguin Blog article on “Injuries-What’s to Blame?” caught my attention immediately this morning. I’d been wondering if Dan Bylsma’s system was responsible for a many of the injuries suffered by the Pens.

    Great data and analysis in the article, and an interesting read.

    Another interesting focus would be on illegal hits and the fact that they seem to actually be increasing, along with serious injuries, despite the NHL’s efforts to stop them.

  13. Skip says:

    @ Dave G

    The Broncos are 7-1 since Tebow was named the starting QB. They would not have this record without him. He’s been a leader and a positive influence on his teammates, and he has consistently played well in the 4th QTR with the game on the line.

    Yes, it’s a team game, and his teammates also deserve credit – particularly the defense and kicking game. But they were 1-4 with these same teammates when Tebow wasn’t playing.

    Give the guy the credit he deserves for what he has accomplished so far. And by the way, the people who marvel at Tebow’s accomplishments are not “idiots”.

  14. Drew71 says:

    Dejan, I thought your column was tremendous.

    I don’t compliment writers’ columns because I agree with them. I do so because:
    1) either it was well crafted and written
    2) or it caused me to perceive something in an entirely new way

    Form or content.

    This column did it for me on both criteria.

    – If Braun’s appeal fails (as seems inevitable, but that’s why there is an appeal process), I would also strip the award. You didn’t specify timing of stripping the MVP award; maybe that is what you meant.

    And on unrelated matters:

    – I thought that Harrison’s hit was clearly, unquestionably a penalty. Yet it didn’t appear to be flagrant. This ought to be interesting.

    – Too many guys with mics in front of their heads on Sundays (and Mondays) have a preconceived, prior announced opinion on Tim Tebow. Too many of them appear to be trying to justify their prior opinions rather than reacting to what they see. I didn’t have an extreme position about Tebow when he came into the league. I thought he was overdrafted, but I thought he was a worthy NFL selection one or two rounds later. If he was some unknown guy named Kovacevic or something who came up from deep on the depth charts to do this, there wouldn’t be such vitriol or blind support.

    – I was in a sports themed restaurant yesterday watching the late afternoon games. You’d think I was in Denver. It is not like it was a Pittsburgh game, which always always ALWAYS draws fans. The place when crazy when the Denver Tebows won that game. Yes, I live in Florida, and there is the Gator connection. I’m sure that is a good part of it. But it appeared to be more than just that, as some who were initially watching all or other games suddenly became Tebowists when the game really mattered.

    DK: I appreciate that, Drew. And yes, the timing of the stripping of an MVP would be after full due process. That said, again, the BBWAA has made it clear that’s not happening.

  15. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Like I said… I’m not a Tebow hater.

    But the Broncos’ success is much more than just Tebow and, yes, I believe he is over-hyped.

    I give him TONS of credit… but not ALL of the credit like many people seem to do.

    Nobody was this hyped up when Ben broke into the league in his first season, largely because the rest of the team was outstanding as well.

    Denver’s defense is doing incredibly well, and their kicker won this last game, but all you hear is ‘Tebow, Tebow, Tebow…’

  16. leefoo says:

    John A………a #1 seed? We’re gonna be a wild card team unless the Ravens get upset somehow some way. I don’t see it.


    Dave…I agree that Tebow gets too much credit. However, my comment is more towards the whole “Tebowmania” thing which is actually crediting the whole Bronco team, incl Prater. It is amazing tho, how Tebow becomes Kenny Stabler in the 4th qtr. And I can’t remember ANY team pulling off this many 4th qtr comebacks.

    And thanks for not calling me an idiot. :) :)


  17. leefoo says:

    Dan……….I just think Harrison could’ve ‘squared up’ a little lower.


  18. CWalton_67 says:

    Today’s column very well done, DK. You have to give MLB a ton of credit for continuing to take the black eyes that come with the effort to clean up the sport. There is no question in my mind that the NFL is tainted by PED’s, but I’d love to know if or how many NHL players are using. Pretty sure that the last person accused or tested positive was Tony Twist of the Blues and that was a very long time ago.

    Steigerwald was reckless with his accusation against Ovechkin and deserved the roasting. But I don’t think the idea that Ovie may have been using PED’s is implausible.

    In general, it doesn’t appear that the NHL has a problem. There have been no outrageous statistical seasons by any players, including the superstars; no unknowns who mysteriously burst onto the scene out of nowhere. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

    DK: Thanks, Chris. Maybe the appearance that a problem doesn’t exist has to do with the NHL burying any problem it might have.

  19. Drew71 says:

    One more in the unrelated category…

    The gap between the suspensions of Cincinnati and Xavier players did not, to me, seem to be enough.

    And since I have no problem with the number of games that Xavier imposed on its players…let’s just say that while I praise the FAST reaction of both schools, I was not very impressed with the depth (or length) of the reaction by one of them.

    There are two guys on Cincy I would have given an “indefinite” suspension, and in effect have them “earn” their way back on the team. If one of them handled himself perfectly from this point forward and ended up with 6 games, so be it. But to LIMIT it from the beginning to 6 games, just a couple more than some of Xavier guys got just didn’t quite do it for me.

    For serious stuff, there is something that works with “indefinite” and the process of earning reinstatement. It puts the onus back on the player and sends a message that HE must take responsibility. I am NOT saying that indefinite has to = season or dozens of games. I just simply like, for serious violations, the earn-in process and the message it sends to a young man.

  20. Naje says:

    Great read… I venture a guess that PED’s and baseball have something to do with 162 games and trying to fill 40K seat stadiums and keeping the coffers filled with cash. I’d like to see 10 guys on every mlb team tested… every year. Same with football, basketball and hockey.

    No suspension necessary for Harrison. A vicious, violent hit…yes. But the guy was running with the football and made a choice. He looked like he was running until the very last possible moment and then tossed it to his receiver/rb. Fine the hit… but a suspension would be ridiculous.

    DK: Thanks, Paul.

  21. Drew71 says:

    I just read on ESPN:

    “Mikhail Prokhorov, one of Russia’s richest tycoons and the owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, said Monday he will run against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the March (Russian) presidential election.”

    Shouldn’t he be required to win an NBA title first?

    Or at least have a trade declined by a dictator?

    (Somehow I think I’m mixing metaphors. But not by too much.)

  22. Drew71 says:

    Sure, I was having fun. But can you imagine of Prokhol Harum WINS?

    Forget about Russia. What happens to the NBA????

  23. Drew71 says:

    Talk about a whiter shade of pale.

    OK. I’m done.

  24. Milo Hamilton says:

    Sidney Crosby is not practicing today.

  25. Milo Hamilton says:


    I understand one of Prokhorov’s campaign promises is to relocate to The Kremlin to Brooklyn. He should make Alexi Yashin his Vice President. He’s used to making a lot of money and doing nothing.

  26. Drew71 says:

    ESPN: Todd Haley out as KC Chiefs’ head coach.

    “The Chiefs won the AFC West title last year but have stumbled to a 5-8 record this season. Quarterback Matt Cassel is out for the season with a hand injury and the team’s offense has sputtered behind backup QB Tyler Palko.”

    Read that twice and think, would the Steelers fire a guy in that circumstance? Wins title then struggles with backup QB? Not even finishing the season? Almost like someone was afraid that they might figure it out and end on an upbeat…meaning someone probably didn’t want to take that chance…wanted Haley OUT.

    That someone, according to a Craig Mortensen tweet, is likely GM Scott Pioli. In Mortensen’s tweet (separate from the ESPN article), he claims:

    “The Haley/Pioli relationship was a rough one”

    Haley is a guy who will end up working somewhere soon. Maybe as an offensive coordinator initially. But unless something comes out that is currently unknown (and I am NOT hinting that I think that is the case) I can’t imagine that Haley walks away with too much of a stain.

  27. TS says:

    At this point who gives two sh#ts about Harrison or Braun. Sid The Kid is out indefinitely again. Not good. Not good at all.

  28. stan capper says:

    I really HATE to the guy who says “I told you so,” but the Sid news is no surprise. Just devastating to him as a person. This goes way beyond its impact on the Pens. Sit him down all year and MAYBE he’ll be fine next season…maybe. I feel so bad for that kid. So glad he did it all already.

  29. PgherinLev says:

    @Dave G

    I think there may be something to Tebow’s team mates developing an attitude of “If it’s close, we can’t lose with Timmy in there.” When things are going well, you tend to do things with more confidence, which is a huge component to performing at a high level. While Tebow is certainly not carrying Denver on his arm or even his legs, maybe he has sparked an extra bit of confidence that elevates the performance of everyone and the team as a whole.

  30. Milo Hamilton says:

    I used to think that there was no worse sports talk radio than Fantasy Football talk. “I can start two of these three – Victor Cruz, Wes Welker, or AJ Green.” I can change the station before the “expert” can ask if it’s a PPR league.

    I think I found something just as bad. Concussion talk on sports talk radio. Hearing callers & hosts alike pontificate on the best way to handle these serious matters when the doctors don’t even know what to do is at best comical. And listening people call and try to outdo the previous callers concussion with their own concussion is nothing short of radio death.

    Thank God for music. Happy Birthday Frank.

  31. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    … and I agree with that statement wholeheartedly!

    It’s more about the whole team, not just Tebow.

    The entire team is seizing opportunities to win… in dramatic fashion.

  32. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    *** Miami Dolphins fire Sparano today***

  33. Dave G in Mason, OH says:

    Todd Bowles interim coach for the Dolphins

  34. Milo Hamilton says:

    Todd Bowles played his college football at Temple for head coach Bruce Arians.

  35. Milo Hamilton says:

    Pirates trade Jose Veras to Milwaukee for 3B Casey McGehee. Both are arbitration eligible. There is your Pedro insurance & possible platoon partner for Jones at 1B.

  36. Eric Bowser says:

    First thought, holy crap Huntington made a very nice asset management decision to sign Veras and turn a journeyman reliever into a potential everyday third baseman. Then, it sends a statement to current third baseman Pedro Alvarez that his job isn’t going to be handed to him just because he was a former second overall draft pick with homerun potential.

    Finally, I believe this move should signal the end of Alvarez as a third baseman. He’s never going to provide the kind of defense you need at the hot corner and moving him to first base should be easier for him and that’s what this team needs to free up his mind and concentrate on his hitting.

    It should be interesting to see if Garrett Jones is retained or not. I’d keep him for 1B insurance against Alvarez failing to ‘get it’ and help provide a big stick for the bench.

  37. Eric Bowser says:

    and now Pirates have announced signing Jason Grilli to 1-year $1.1 million deal.

    Pretty good roster/payroll management to deal Veras who was projected to get over $2 million via arbitration and replace his job with Grilli and get a potential starting corner infielder.

    Full moon is out, now only if we could get another starting pitcher like Oswalt.

  38. Pattonbb says:

    I like the McGehee deal. But I’d be careful about penciling him in as an everyday 3B. Isn’t he a little error prone? or am I thinking about somebody else? I’m sure one of you stats guys can shine some light on that. Either way, he brings some pop in his bat and the ability to play a few positions.

    Veras had his moments but the one thing (and maybe only thing) this FO has proven they can do well, is put together a bullpen.

    Curious to see where Jones ends up.

  39. Eric Bowser says:

    Pattonbb – You would be correct that McGehee isn’t exactly Scott Rolen at third base.

    McGehee had 20 errors in 147 games at 3B in 2011, though Alvarez had 14 in 66 games. For a player to project to 30-plus errors over a full season tells me his mental and physical approach to the job wasn’t there. McGehee will either push Alvarez to be an average fielding third baseman who can hit 30 HR and 100 RBI, or he’ll wilt like a willow tree and cement himself as a huge draft bust.

  40. Milo Hamilton says:

    I’m wondering about a possible non-tender for Evan Meek. Trading Veras makes that less likely, or does it. Probably good news for Resop too. I’d cut Resop loose. There are dozens of him out there.

  41. Eric Bowser says:

    I’m guessing the current bullpen is Hanrahan, Meek, Grilli, McCutchen, Resop, Watson, and Moskos. They have Hughes, Leroux, and Lincoln as RH options and maybe other younger guys like Justin Wilson and Bryan Morris.

  42. joe h says:

    On this Harrison hit, the quarterback ducked as the hit occurred. Harrison was not at fault. What is a defender to do- look up to see where someone’s head is before making a tackle? That could cause a neck injury to the defender. When a quarterback takes off running, he is just that- a runner, with the potential of a game-breaking play.

  43. John A says:

    leefoo, yeah you’re right its not like Baltimore has lost much on the road to inferior teams. Oh wait, Jax, Ten, Sea. I’ll take SD at home this weekend playing for their lives and red hot on offense against the Ravens. The Ravens have two tough road games left with SD and Cincy. It won’t take any kind of miracle for the Steelers to catch a break.

Other blogs
Sports: Rob Rossi | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | iPreps | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports
News: This Just In | Trib List | ICycle | Flow Back | Stories Behind Trib Stories  

» Top Sports
» Top News
» Top Breaking News