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James Harrison takes aim at NFL over helmet-to-helmet hits

By Simon Evans

DALLAS (Reuters) - Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison tackled a tough issue during the Super Bowl's normally light-hearted Media Day, taking a shot at the NFL for its attempt to eliminate dangerous helmet-to-helmet hits.

Harrison has been fined on four separate occasions this season -- for late or dangerous hits -- and at one point suggested he would retire from the game due to the clampdown.

Harrison, who two years ago scored the longest touchdown in Super Bowl history (100 yards), suggested that the NFL's concern was more about keeping their big-name players out of harm's way.

"The league is doing whatever they need to do that helps them make more money," he said. "If you hit Tom Brady or Peyton Manning and you concuss them and they can't play the next game, a lot of people might not tune in to see that. It's whatever makes them more money."

"Listen, you're going to get hit if you play football. Our defense, we play 1,000 miles an hour.

"We're balls to the wall, so to speak, and yeah, if you're out there, expect to be hit. If you're scared, then maybe you don't need to be out there."

STRICT RULES

But Harrison suggested that system depended on players drawing attention to their injuries.

"I've had concussions at the pro level," he said. "It wasn't bad enough to where I needed to come out of the game.

"I'll put it like this: if you don't tell them, they don't know unless you get knocked out and you're sitting there with your arm stuck in the air."

The Steelers linebacker rejected the notion that he was out to injure opponents.

"When I tackle someone, I want to get them on the ground," he said. "I'm not trying to punish anyone. We're not trying to hurt anyone."

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)