BEREA, Ohio - Josh Cribbs has no problem with the hit he suffered from James Harrison on Sunday.
In fact, Cribbs defended Harrison, and even provided words of encouragement as the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker considered retirement.
“When I talked to him I said, ‘you a player, so play… Don’t try to change who you are,’” Cribbs said.
During the week, Harrison received a $75,000 fine for the hit he put on the Browns wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, and Harrison then said he was considering retirement because he didn’t know if he could continue playing football the same way.
As Harrison mulled his future, Cribbs—his former Kent State teammate—helped convince him to keep playing. Cribbs believes he played a key part in convincing Harrison to stay in football.
"He called me after that when he was getting fined," Cribbs said. "I talked to him even a couple of days ago when he was considering retiring.''
After the game, Harrison drew criticism for his locker room comments, where he said he was out to “hurt, but not injure” opposing players. Cribbs had no problems with the comments, or the hits, and said Harrison just doing his job.
“He’s one of those high intensity guys. He might come off wrong in the media saying that he wants to hurt guys, but there’s two different thing between saying hurt and injure,” Cribbs said. “He’s a vicious linebacker. He’s a good linebacker. If he played for us, or if he was on our team, we’d be applauding his efforts.
“He plays to knock people out. Wouldn’t you want a linebacker like that on your team?” Cribbs said.
The hit—along with several other around the NFL—set off a league-wide discussion on the issue of helmet-to-helmet hits, prompting the NFL to set new guidelines on how to punish players.
Players have differing views on the new standards, and Cribbs said the NFL needs to be careful with going too far.
“I think they’re making the right strides in wanting to protect players, but at the same time, the NFL is walking a fine line between changing the game and changing player’s abilities.”
The hit sidelined Cribbs throughout practice during the week, but he returned to action Friday and should be ready to play in New Orleans Sunday.
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