James Harrison may have gotten the Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin in trouble thanks to his “envelope” comment on a recent podcast. Pittsburgh president Art Rooney is now trying to play damage control to suppress the situation.
Harrison alleged that Tomlin handed him “an envelope” after the linebacker received a $75,000 fine from the NFL for a brutal hit on a Browns’ receiver back in 2010. It’s unclear what the former NFL linebacker is directly referring to. But it’s safe to assume Tomlin may have issued Harrison an off-the-book payment to either cover the fine or pay out a bonus for the big-time hit.
Even if neither of those scenarios are true, it’s still a bad look for Tomlin. And it’s bizarre as to why Harrison would make such a shocking admission during a Barstool Sports podcast.
Rooney’s now trying to calm what has become a rapidly spreading story Thursday evening. The Steelers’ president denied Harrison’s “envelope” comments in a new statement.
“I am very certain nothing like this ever happened,” Rooney said, via Pro Football Talk. “I have no idea why James would make a comment like this but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”
As expected, Rooney’s attempting to suppress the situation. But it wouldn’t be surprising if the NFL decides to investigate the matter.
Harrison’s comments has drawn the Saints’ infamous “Bountygate” to mind. New Orleans was hit with some of the most severe sanctions in NFL history due to the organization’s opposing-player injury incentive bonuses.
There’s no evidence to suggest the Steelers’ current predicament even comes close to New Orleans’ scandal in 2011. But it does put Rooney and Tomlin in a tough situation this off-season.