The top story on both Post-Gazette.com and ESPN.com today were “James Harrison Mulling Retirement”. Backing up this ridiculous, overblown, intentionally eye-grabbing headline is the following stupid quote from Harrison’s agent, in a very obvious attempt to legitimize his client’s gripe with his most recent fine through dramatic, exaggeratedly defensive rhetoric:
“We wouldn’t joke about this,” Parise said. “This is a very serious issue. James is very concerned about how to play football. If James is going to be fined $75,000 for making a legal tackle, then how do you go play football? It’s quite frustrating to James, to Coach Tomlin, to me, to everybody.”
Congratulations, James Harrison’s agent and news sites being obligated to post this as a shocking news story so everyone clicks on it and talks about it at the water cooler (do people still talk about stuff at water coolers? Or were they scrapped when Seinfeld went off the air?)
The thing is, no one has EVER retired from professional sports while at the top of their game and making tens of millions of dollars, barring injury, age, or some absolutely massive controversy. The closest examples I can think of:
- Ricky Williams, who walked away for vague spiritual reasons after failing several drug tests and not wanting to take more, though he returned when the Dolphins attempted to re-claim his signing bonus money.
- Tiki Barber, a still-productive running back who retired slightly before he fell off the running back precipice, though he essentially had a Today Show job waiting for him instantly upon retirement.
I realize the P-G and ESPN are just reporting facts, inasmuch as Harrison and his agent did factually say these things today in their post-fine frustration, but seriously, would it have been too much editorializing or just common sense for the reports to also add “…but obviously, James Harrison isn’t going to effing retire right now”?
Harrison is receiving more than $13 million this season. He got fined $75,000. He’s going to continue playing the sport. I’m already pre-shuddering in advance of the repetitive, unnecessary arguments on Around The Horn, PTI, SportsCenter, and wherever Tony Dungy is this afternoon about whether or not people are “buying” James Harrison’s retirement talk. He’s obviously not retiring.
Mike Tomlin already says he “expects Harrison back in practice tomorrow.” This story is stupid. Let’s stop talking about it.