- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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This just in: Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison ripped NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for the 100th time. This time, Harrison used his strongest language to date in an explosive interview with Men's Journal magazine.
"Up until last year, there was no word of me being dirty -- till Roger Goodell, who's a crook and a puppet, said I was the dirtiest player in the league," Harrison said. "If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn't do it. I hate him and will never respect him."
Is Harrison asking for a suspension? Don't bet on his getting suspended.
The NFL certainly won't like these comments. But players have been outspoken about Goodell before -- particularly the Steelers -- and the league didn't hand out suspensions. Players lashing out is nothing new and, if anything, a fine is probably the stiffest penalty Harrison could face.
Harrison's biggest issue will be the fallout from his own locker room. The Pro Bowl linebacker has some disparaging remarks for starting Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and tailback Rashard Mendenhall, who was described by Harrison as a "fumble machine." (Update: Harrison talked to Roethlisberger about the comments.)
When asked about Roethlisberger's two picks in the Super Bowl, Harrison was still upset about them.
"Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again," Harrison said. "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."
Roethlisberger took the blame immediately after the Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers, saying Pittsburgh could have won if he had played better. Mendenhall also showed remorse for his game-changing fumble in the Super Bowl. But Harrison is the first teammate to publicly rip Roethlisberger and Mendenhall for their performances.
Harrison has never been described as a bad teammate. But these kinds of comments can potentially divide a locker room. It's worth noting that Harrison's criticisms were of players on Pittsburgh's offense. He spoke very highly of defensive teammate Troy Polamalu.
"He's the one guy in football I respect absolutely, 'cause he's spiritual and lives it like he talks it,'" Harrison said of the Pro Bowl safety. "You know, he gets more flags than anyone on our team but never gets fined for nothin'. He's so polite and talks so softly that he could tell Goodell to kiss his [expletive], and Goodell would smile and say thank you."
It's evident that Harrison keeps it all-the-way real. There are no frills with him, and if you ask an honest question, you always get an honest answer. Sometimes too honest.
As a result, Pittsburgh now has a major in-house issue to deal with once the lockout ends.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is one of the NFL's best at managing egos, and he will be required to work his magic once again. Teams cannot have contact with players until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. So this issue will linger for the Steelers until players report to training camp.
1dJason Gibbs, Special to ESPN.com