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James Harrison and Brandon Meriweather’s comments won’t help them

Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather and Steelers linebacker James Harrison figured to be fined at the very least for their hits on Sunday.

The question, in the wake of the NFL’s statements on helmet-to-helmet hits on Monday, is whether they will be suspended. Meriweather and Harrison’s comments indicate that may be the only way to change their behavior.

“I was playing aggressive and something happened,” Meriweather said on WEEI Monday via the Boston Herald. “I’m going to be aggressive. Point blank. I won’t change my game, period. I’m sorry it happened.”

Meriweather went on to say he’s friends with Ravens tight end Todd Heap, the player he hit. They spoke after the game.

“It’s football. You’ve got a lot of good players, where you think one thing, and another thing can happen in a split-second,” Meriweather said. “My split-second decision was to be aggressive and not wait for it.”

Harrison, meanwhile, is taking heat for knocking out Browns wideout Mohammad Massaquoi. The NFL confirmed to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Harrison’s hit that knocked out Josh Cribbs was legal, but they are reviewing the Massaquoi hit.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said the hits were clean after the game. So did Harrison."I’m not worried about getting fined on that. Not at all,” Harrison said via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If I get fined on that, it’s got to be a travesty. They didn’t call [penalties on] that. There’s no way I can be fined.”

Harrison was unapologetic in comments distributed by the Associated Press.

“I don’t want to injure anybody,” Harrison said. “There’s a big difference between being hurt and being injured. You get hurt, you shake it off and come back the next series or the next game. I try to hurt people.”

This isn’t a black and white issue. Steelers safety Ryan Clark hits upon some of the gray matter.

“I think sometimes people react to the highlights of the hit instead of the actual way the hit was applied,” Clark said. “They look at the after-effects, ‘Oh, this guy’s knocked out, it must be dirty.’ That’s not necessarily true.”

We agree that the result of the play often dictates the attention it gets. Some “dirty” hits are never noticed because everyone turns out fine. But that doesn’t mean the NFL should ignore the issue. The league has to attempt to take care of the players, because players have demonstrated they won’t take care of themselves.

They will play through concussions. They will attack with their helmets and worry about the consequences later. Harrison was asked if he ever fears for his own noggin, considering his playing style.

“Nah, I’m not worried about it,” he said. “That’s part of the risk that you take.”