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Friday, July 15, 2011
James Harrison: Fact or Fiction?

By James Walker

Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison had a lot to say in an explosive interview with Men's Journal.

But how accurate were Harrison's statements? Let’s examine in another edition of "Fact or Fiction."

Rashard Mendenhall
Is Rashard Mendenhall really a 'fumble machine'?
Harrison on Steelers tailback Rashard Mendenhall: He's a "fumble machine."

Fiction: Mendenhall carried the ball 324 times last season, which was fourth most in the NFL. Of those 324 carries, he lost just two fumbles, which Mendenhall astutely pointed out via Twitter. Mendenhall's biggest fumble came in the Super Bowl, and many -- including Harrison -- remember that play vividly. But in terms of numbers, Harrison is inaccurate.

Harrison on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's two interceptions in Super Bowl XLV: "Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again."

Fiction: Roethlisberger's first interception was to Packers safety Nick Collins, who returned it 37 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. The defense never saw the field after that turnover. Roethlisberger's second pick in the second quarter was to safety Jarrett Bush at Green Bay's 47 yard-line. The ball was near midfield and on the Packers' side, which isn't horrible field position.

More Harrison on Roethlisberger: "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."

Fact: Roethlisberger is not Manning, who has amazing statistics and is a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. Roethlisberger will never be able to catch up in terms of numbers. But Roethlisberger does have twice the Super Bowl rings ( 2 to 1) and a much better playoff record (10-3) than Manning (9-10). In terms of money, Manning's most recent contract expired after last season but paid an average of $14.2 million per year. Roethlisberger's contract pays an average of $12.7 million per year. So that's fairly accurate, as well.

Harrison on Steelers safety Troy Polamalu: "He's the one guy in football I respect absolutely, 'cause he's spiritual and lives it like he talks it. You know, he gets more flags than anyone on our team but never gets fined for nothin'."

Fact: Polamalu is one of the genuinely good guys in sports and he's very spiritual. Polamalu also is soft-spoken but has criticized the NFL several times without getting fined. The most famous was when he said the NFL was becoming a "pansy league." But many players do not get fined for their comments. Will that be the case for Harrison?