One day after James Harrison claimed Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin gave him an envelope after an especially vicious tackle, the player claimed his former team never had a “Bountygate” system. The former linebacker took to his Instagram page on Friday afternoon to try and dispel the rumors he helped create.
Alongside a picture of several headlines regarding Harrison’s envelope claims, the former player wrote that he was incredulous that people thought he was talking about being paid for his hit when he made the comments.
He said Tomlin never paid him for hurting anyone. He added there was never a system in place where Harrison was rewarded for even trying to hurt anyone.
The former linebacker then attempted to turn the conversation he had started back on the NFL. He wrote that part of the uproar over his comments on a recent podcast was because the NFL wants to try and look like it suddenly cares about player safety.
Harrison claimed the league was selling pictures of his hit on Cleveland Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi for $55 apiece on its website. Then, he said, the first lawsuits were filed against the league due to ignoring concussions, and the NFL started covering up that it had been earning money off people getting hurt.
He finished the caption of the post by reiterating that Tomlin never paid him for hitting anyone and that the Steelers never had any kind of reward system in place for causing injuries.
Harrison was initially fined $75,000 for the hit on Massaquoi, but it was later reduced by the league offices to $50,000. The Browns’ receiver suffered a concussion as a result of the tackle, though the play didn’t result in a penalty during the game.
ESPN‘s Brooke Pryor reported that Steelers’ president Art Rooney II issued a statement Thursday night denying the team ever had a Bountygate reward system.
“I am very certain nothing like this ever happened. I have no idea why James would make a comment like this but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this,” Rooney said.
The envelope claim drew reactions from all over the NFL. On Friday, The Inquisitr reported that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton said he didn’t know whether it ever happened but did say he was confident the league would attempt to sweep the issue under the rug, rather than investigate.
Bill Parise, Harrison’s former agent, also issued a statement earlier this week saying he was skeptical the former player ever received money for violent hits. Parise added that he and Harrison were still very close in their ongoing 18-year professional relationship. He said the All-Pro linebacker would have told him about getting paid for hurting a player if it had ever happened.