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Former Steelers linebacker James Harrison says coach Mike Tomlin “handed me an envelope” after concussion-causing hit on Browns WR Mohamed Massaquoi in 2010

Retired Steelers linebacker James Harrison was all sledgehammer and no nuance on the field, but he relied on innuendo recently to bring scrutiny upon Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

During a long conversation on the “Going Deep” podcast co-hosted by former Steelers teammate Willie Colon and Steven Cheah, Harrison discussed the 2010 concussion-causing hit on Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi that drew a $75,000 fine from the NFL.

“I ain’t gonna lie to you. And the G-est (most gangster) thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that,” Harrison, who went to high school in Akron, said last week. “I ain’t gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.”

Harrison wasn’t pressed to elaborate, so it was unclear if he was suggesting Tomlin gave him the envelope as a bounty for taking out Massaquoi, or to pay for the fine.

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The Steelers organization released a statement from owner and president Art Rooney II on Thursday.

“I am very certain nothing like this ever happened,” Rooney said. “I have no idea why James would make a comment like this but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”

Bill Parise, Harrison’s longtime agent, agreed with Rooney.

“Absolutely not. Never happened,” Parise told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I would have known that. It didn’t happen.”

Harrison took to social media Friday to take pressure off Tomlin.

“Wow y’all really comparing what I said to BOUNTYGATE?!? Mike T. Has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY!” he wrote. “If you knew the full story of what happened back then you’d know that BS fine for a Legal Play wasn’t even penalized during the game. The league was getting pressure because the first concussion lawsuits were starting and they had to look like they cared about player safety all of a sudden. Before that they had been SELLING a photo of THAT SAME PLAY FOR $55 on the NFL website with other videos of the NFL’S GREATEST HITS that the league Profited On back then. When the league had to start pretending like they cared about player safety they took all those things down off their website and they started fining guys ridiculous amounts for the same plays they used to profit off of. EVERYBODY knew it – even these same media people and all the fans that were sending money to me and the team to cover the fine.

“AGAIN AT NO TIME did Mike T. EVER suggest anybody hurt anybody or that they’d be rewarded for anything like that.”

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Wow y'all really comparing what I said to BOUNTYGATE?!? Mike T. Has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY! If you knew the full story of what happened back then you'd know that BS fine for a Legal Play wasn't even penalized during the game. The league was getting pressure because the first concussion lawsuits were starting and they had to look like they cared about player safety all of a sudden. Before that they had been SELLING a photo of THAT SAME PLAY FOR $55 on the NFL website with other videos of the NFL'S GREATEST HITS that the league Profited On back then. When the league had to start pretending like they cared about player safety they took all those things down off their website and they started fining guys ridiculous amounts for the same plays they used to profit off of. EVERYBODY knew it – even these same media people and all the fans that were sending money to me and the team to cover the fine. AGAIN AT NO TIME did Mike T. EVER suggest anybody hurt anybody or that they'd be rewarded for anything like that. GTFOH with that BS!!! #receipts

A post shared by James Harrison (@jhharrison92) on

Harrison said he was fined about $225,000 during his 15-year career that included five Pro Bowl trips and Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008. He was notorious for taking out Browns players, including Joshua Cribbs earlier in the same game and quarterback Colt McCoy. Both knockout blows were with the crown of Harrison’s helmet.

The Massaquoi hit came on a short crossing route, as Harrison launched into Massaquoi.

“On, listen, everything I love, on my daddy’s grave, I hit that man with about max 50 percent of what I had, and I just hit him ’cause I wanted him to let loose of the ball,” Harrison said. “If I had knew they was gonna fine me $75,000, I would have tried to kill him.”

He wasn’t fined for the hit on Cribbs, who was scrambling as a wildcat quarterback.

“I was looking to put him to sleep though ’cause that’s my homeboy,” Harrison said of his former Kent State teammate. “You know, I got to talk greasy to him, so I was looking to put him to sleep. So, I wasn’t looking to put Massaquoi to sleep, but he just went to sleep.”

The NFL suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season for a bounty system run by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was also suspended for the season. Payton was asked Thursday in a radio interview on Baltimore’s 105.7 The Fan about Harrison’s comment.

“If people are waiting for the league to investigate that, they shouldn’t hold their breath,” Payton said. “That’ll be something that’s tucked away or under the rug at Park Avenue. They’ll look into it briefly.

“Listen, don’t get me started on that. I lost $6 million in salary. And honestly it was something that I’ll never truly get over because I know how it was handled and how it was run and the reasons behind it. And that’s just the truth.”

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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