The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Mike Tomlin really did give James Harrison ‘an envelope’ after he was fined for a hit that the team said that the time it felt was legal back in 2010.
Explanation: As you SURELY know by now, Harrison earlier this month made a claim during a podcast that, after he was fined $75,000 for a hit on a wide receiver in 2010, Tomlin handed him an envelope, with the implication being that it contained money to help pay his fine. This would be a serious thing if it actually happened.
While he might not always be right, and he might not always remember things correctly, or fully understand things, it’s hard to imagine that Harrison would misremember whether or not he was given an envelope. And generally speaking, he doesn’t appear to be the type of person who will make things up.
When Harrison spoke a second time on the subject, it was only to make it clear that Tomlin didn’t give him money as a bounty. He thereby reaffirmed his story that he was given money from Tomlin—just not for the reason that some were suggesting.
That Art Rooney II and Harrison’s agent would deny that this took place has no bearing on whether or not it actually happened. They have no choice but to deny it. And we know that Tomlin is a ‘player’s coach’ who is willing to afford some players a level of special treatment, as seen with Antonio Brown.
There is such a high level of risk involved in a coach giving a player money that it’s just completely implausible that this happened. And it’s important to remember, too, that while Tomlin did have a Super Bowl by this point in his career, he was still just a fourth-year head coach—and coming off of a disappointing 2009 season, as well.
Harrison was making plenty of money. $75,000 to him would be like a couple bucks to me, if that. There’s no reason Tomlin would have taken this sort of risk for a millionaire star player as just a symbolic gesture. If anything, Harrison intended to speak metaphorically. That’s far more plausible than the substance of his story.