James Harrison has new approach

  • ESPN.com news services | December 21, 2012

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison says he's changed his approach on hitting because of the NFL's new standards on player safety.

"I've really lowered my target area to where it's down around the knees," Harrison said Friday on "Mike & Mike in the Morning." "Situations come along where you could tackle the guy high. I don't do that anymore. I tackle the guy low."

A four-time Pro Bowler and the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Harrison has become the NFL's prime example of delivering illegal hits on defenseless players, especially those to the head. He's drawn a suspension and has been fined more than $100,000 in his career for hits the league has deemed unsafe.

In December 2011, Harrison became the first player to be suspended under the league's stricter guidelines for player safety after his hit on the Cleveland Browns' Colt McCoy left the quarterback with a concussion.

But despite changing his tactics in how he hits, Harrison doesn't believe it will necessarily enhance player safety. He referenced his hit that caused Denver wide receiver Eric Decker to suffer an MCL injury in last season's playoffs as an example of how things still can be dangerous.

"I could have tackled him high, but if I had hit him high, I probably would have gotten a helmet-to-helmet or something and gotten fined," Harrison said. "So I hit him low and strained his MCL. ... They're saying it's a life-threatening injury to hit a guy in the head and he gets a concussion and so on and so forth, but I think a life-threatening injury is to go low on a guy and blow out his ACL or whatever, and he's not able to come back the way he was before. Now he can't make a living, he can't feed his family, he can't do what he does. That's life-threatening to me."

Harrison also again expressed doubts that commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the league are actually trying to make things safer.

"You say you want to make the game safer but yet you turn around and want to add extra games," Harrison said. "How is that making us safer?"

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