- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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James Harrison is a fool, obviously, with an unjustified persecution complex and a seemingly insatiable need to convince himself and everyone else that the world is out to get him. I have no patience for this kind of person, especially not when the legal level of violence in the game of football serves as insufficient outlet for his inner anger. Nobody made any new rules last year to try and bring down Harrison. The NFL simply told Harrison and the rest of the league that they needed to start playing by the rules that were in place (i.e., you can't leave your feet and launch yourself, helmet-first, at another player because it's so incredibly stupid and you're putting yourself at serious risk as well) or else the punishments would grow more severe. Harrison defiantly refused to obey, then threatened to quit the game when the punishments for his continued rulebreaking, as promised, grew more severe.
As you've surely heard, Harrison is still trying to push this insanity on the football-inclined public, ripping commissioner Roger Goodell in an upcoming issue of Men's Journal. Harrison calls Goodell a "crook" and a "devil" and says he wouldn't urinate on the man if he found him on fire. Good job, James. Don't be afraid to use a wrecking ball when a tack hammer will do.
Anyway, I could obviously go on, but the point I really wanted to raise here was about the photo you see if you click that link -- that of a shirtless Harrison posing with one of his precious handguns in each hand. Now there's a message worth sending. A perpetually furious man, who could kill other men with his bare hands, brandishing firearms in a photo next to a story about how angry he is about everybody in the world. Thanks, Men's Journal, for helping us all sleep peacefully at night.
When Plaxico Burress went to jail for idiotically shooting himself with an unlicensed handgun in a crowded nightclub, I remember thinking (and writing) that something good had a chance to come out of it. I thought that, if the next time one of these guys was thinking about leaving the house with a handgun for no good reason, he might think about Burress and decide not to do it because the risk of having to go to jail for two years and maybe lose your career didn't justify it. I thought the gun culture among pro athletes might take a hit -- that some of these guys might have wised up and decided owning and carrying guns was more dangerous than it was worth.
Maybe that did happen, and maybe Harrison's the exception. But I fear not. I don't think Harrison strikes this particular gun-glorifying pose if he's living in a post-Burress world that actually discourages guns among NFL players. I fear that nobody learned anything from the Burress matter, and all of these guys are still carrying guns around to make themselves feel like tough guys, or because of some ludicrous and baseless notion that people are out to hurt them (and that the gun would really help if that were the case). And if that's true, then it's too bad. Because now I feel like the idiot for thinking something about the way these overgrown children think might actually change.