For those who can’t bear to subject themselves to the NBC studio shows, what with Football Night in America being so overproduced it makes T-Pain seem “gritty” by comparison, you probably missed Rodney Harrison continuing his crusade to turn himself into the court jester of today’s crop of NFL television analysts*.
In this instance, Tom Brady had just thrown a pass in the pocket when he was hit in the knee by Terrell Suggs (and rather lightly at that), prompting a 15-yard roughing the passer flag at Brady’s demonstrative request. Afterward, Harrison took what should have been an interesting debate about the new NFL rules protecting the quarterback in the pocket and instead turned into an OMG controversy about just Harrison, Brady, and “manhood.” Oh, great. Awesome. Video of the play in question and Harrison’s “controversial” remark after the break.
Here’s the problem. As Jeffrey Lebowski might say, “You’re not wrong, Rodney, you’re just an a$$hole.” That rule is ridiculous and has been since its inception, something Harrison has been correct in pointing out multiple times. After all, it sure didn’t seem like Suggs was going for a cheap shot or trying to injure Brady in any way, and it was hardly the type of hit that would draw a post-game fine from the commissioner’s office. He made contact with a dude’s leg at a low speed. Harrison could have framed it that way. He didn’t.
Another thing Harrison could have pointed out is that with the helmet rules and now the leg rules, it’s getting harder and harder to find a place to hit a quarterback “cleanly” without earning a roughing penalty. Even a hit to the midsection can be a roughing call if the ref thinks the player drove the QB into the turf. This is football, where people get crushed all the time, and where the pocket is full of violent hand-to-hand combat. To put someone in the middle of that pocket and declare them hands-off is ridiculous. Ray Lewis brought this aspect up (in his own way, of course). Harrison could have framed it that way. He didn’t.
No, even though we don’t think Harrison actually thinks Tom Brady is a girl or otherwise girlish (fellow NBC studio member Mike Florio interpreted it as a joke at PRO FOOTBALL TALK, and we’re inclined to agree), Harrison expressed his opinion in a stupid, outdated, Neanderthal fashion.
Furthermore, Tom Brady’s still out there playing football and is married to one of the hottest chicks in the world. Rodney Harrison is retired and wears makeup while talking about football in some insulated studio. Who sounds less manly now? You see how this insidious cycle of questioning someone’s manhood ends? In people not talking about the original issue at hand, which is that the NFL has completely overprotected its quarterbacks, and that it negatively affects how the game is played. The rule is bad enough on its own merits, Mr. Harrison. Make that fact central to your argument, and don’t wander into bigoted comments, even as a joke.
*We’ve seen comparisons made to Jay Mariotti and Skip Bayless, but those don’t exactly ring true, if only because we think Harrison actually believes the points he makes; he just makes them inartfully. Mariotti and Bayless, however, are contrarian chuckleheads who know no other way to get attention.