In the grand scheme of things, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison could probably care less that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had his latest attempt to avoid serving a four-game Deflategate suspension to start the 2016 season rejected Wednesday by an appeals court. Even so, the Steelers veteran was quick to point out Wednesday afternoon that Brady, the Patriots and all of the 30 other NFL teams can’t blame the Steelers for what has transpired when it comes to the suspension that Roger Goodell handed down to the quarterback in 2015.
In a response to a Twitter post by Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams concerning the Wednesday morning ruling on Brady, Harrison tweeted, “Yea that cause the cba y’all voted for gave him the power to dish out any punishment he wants!”
Harrison, of course, is referencing the fact that the Steelers were the only one of the 32 NFL teams to vote against the new CBA in the summer of 2011 as their players felt at the time the new deal would continue to give Goodell too much leeway as the judge, jury and executioner over the player conduct policy.
“At that time, we were one of the only teams going through it as it related to James Harrison and Ben,” said Charlie Batch, the Steelers backup quarterback and member of the NFLPA executive committee in 2011 at the time. “Players voted against it because they were more or less unhappy with the way the personal conduct policy worked.”
Harrison hasn’t been afraid to constantly remind everyone who will listen to him that the rest of the players in the league should have followed the Steelers lead in 2011 even though the linebacker is currently in the middle of his own tiff with the NFL as he is currently refusing to grant their request to interview him as part of their ongoing investigation into an an Al Jazeera report on alleged steroid use among athletes in which he was one of several high-profile NFL players named.
Recently, the league sent a letter to the NFLPA that stated Harrison and other NFL players named in the Al Jazeera report could ultimately face discipline should they fail to cooperate with the investigation. The NFLPA contends that the league must provide evidence to them that warrants the players being interviewed.
Earlier this week, Harrison sent a sworn affidavit to the NFL via the NFLPA denying allegations made in an Al Jazeera America documentary that he was supplied performance-enhancing drugs.
“As a professional athlete, I have met thousands of people during my career,” Harrison wrote in the affidavit, “but to the best of my knowledge and recollection, I have never met with the individual who is apparently named Charles Sly…”
Harrison also stated in that affidavit that he has never violated violated the league’s substance abuse policy.
The league had hoped to meet with Harrison on July 28, the day the Steelers are scheduled to report to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe for the start of training camp. As of right now, Harrison has no plans to grant that request and thus it will be interesting to see if the league ultimately disciplines him.