FORT WORTH, Texas – James Harrison feels a little better after two days of venting.
The fiery Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker took some critical shots at the league during the first few media sessions at the Super Bowl, calling the NFL's talk about wanting to protect players "a show." He was a bit more low-key — but unapologetic — Thursday.
"You get to points where you just say, 'All right, yeah, this is what's on my mind and this is what I want to say,'" Harrison said, adding that he wasn't surprised by the hoopla over his comments. "I was just getting this all off my chest, and just getting things off my mind that are on it right now."
Such as sarcastically suggesting a pillow could be used to soften blows he delivers to opposing players, or saying that the owners' push for an 18-game regular season and the possibility of a lockout prove the NFL is more interested in maximizing revenue than the health of its players.
"If you ask me a question, I'll give you an answer," Harrison said. "I'm not worried about anything. This is a free world. I can say what I want to as long as I don't cuss you or anything else. I can say what I want to. It's my opinion. I've never seen a rule in the NFL rulebook that says I can't speak my opinion as long as I didn't use any perverse words."
Harrison was fined $100,000 by the NFL for illegal hits this season, and says that fueled his comments Tuesday and Wednesday.
"Before, I might've been a little more quiet about the fines and everything because I was hoping to get a little bit of money back," said Harrison, who had one fine reduced from $75,000 to $50,000. "Right now, after they fined me $100,000, I have 100,000 reasons to speak my mind."
Harrison said he has no plans to speak with Commissioner Roger Goodell at any point soon about the fines or his comments.
"What do I need to talk to him for?" he asked. "Unless he wants to talk to me, all right, but I really have nothing to say to him now."
Despite the fact the league refunded some of his fine money — as well as that of a few other players — Harrison doesn't feel vindicated.
"No, that was just a token of I don't know what," he said. "I don't know why they did that really, to be honest with you. They gave other guys' money back, so they had to give me money back, I guess."
Harrison, the 2008 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year, had another terrific season with 10½ sacks and two interceptions. All the talk about the fines, he said, overshadowed what he accomplished on the field.
"I want to say no, but honestly, yeah, I'm a little bitter about it," Harrison said. "But when it comes to it, we're in the big dance for the ultimate prize even after all that, so I can't be too upset."