Outrageous Super Bowl Behavior

Last year, I was nearly brought to tears at the story of a college softball player.  Western Oregon and Central Washington were playing in the world softball championships when an Oregon player hit her first-ever home run but blew out her knee rounding first base.  The umpire ruled that she had to round the bases to earn the point, but her teammates could not touch or help her.  In an amazing display of courageous sportsmanship and self-sacrifice, two Washington outfielders picked her up and carried her around the bases.  Washington lost the game.

You’ll never hear such stories in pro sports in this country.

I’m reading a lot today about James Harrison’s 100-yard game-stopping touchdown.  Near the end of the second half of Super Bowl XLIII yesterday, Kurt Warner, two yards from a touchdown that would have put the Cardinals ahead, threw a beautiful, perfect interception.  James Harrison darted out in front of Anquan Boldin–Warner’s intended target–and snatched the ball out of the air, then ran all the way from the Cardinal’s end zone to the Steeler’s, widening the gap to 17-7.  Who knows where most of the Cardinal’s linebackers were; it was Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinal’s magic man receiver, who finally took Harrison down just inside the end zone.

Everyone’s talking about Harrison’s play today, calling him the hero of the game.  But I don’t see a soul talking about what Harrison did in the second half.  After taking down Kurt Warner (after the pass was released, mind you, something the Cardinals were penalized for earlier in the game), Harrison held Warner* on all fours, punched him in the back, then picked him up and threw him back to the ground.

It wasn’t the only unbelievable behavior of the Super Bowl this year.  Three fights broke out on the field, all started by Steelers players, one started on the sidelines in front of coach Ken Wisenhunt.  Harrison started one after taking down Tim Hightower.

Vicious attacks on the level of what Harrison did normally result in far more serious penalties than an “unnecessary roughness” call and an automatic first down.  The instant the referees saw what Harrison really did, they should have ejected him from the game and the NFL commission should have sharply reprimanded him.  Football is a contact sport, but there is nothing in this world that justifies attacking a player after taking him down.

I’m not bitter about the Cardinals’ loss; Warner made some pretty embarrassing mistakes in the beginning.  Allowing Harrison to run unchecked for the longest touchdown play in NFL history was absolutely inexcusable.  My problem is with the juvenile behavior of the Steelers, and the ridiculous calls against Arizona that were never called equally against the Steelers.

Message to professional athletes: kids are watching.  You’re setting an example that they will follow.  When you behave like neanderthals, it not only puts a bad light on you as a sportsman, it sends your younger fans the message that it’s okay to behave that way.  Grow the hell up.  And to the NFL commission: do something about your brats.

***UPDATE***

I was incorrect in my recollection of the attack. I seemed to remember Warner being the object of Harrison’s rage after a pass; it was Aaron Francisco, #47 on the Cardinals’ special team, and it was after a kickoff. What’s worse than what I remembered, though, is that not only was Harrison NOT ejected from the game, the Steelers were not given any penalty. First down was upheld. Here’s the video:

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9 thoughts on “Outrageous Super Bowl Behavior

  1. Huge Steeler fan here!!! I am talking huge fan since their victor over Dallas in Super Bowl X. I was in the 5th grade!

    What you decribed was awful. I agree, he should have been ejected from the game too.

    I wonder if he gets caught taking a bong hit on camera like Michael Phelps?

    It was a crappy game. Too many penalties. Way too many. Good officals try to keep the game from turning into a brawl or gang fight. Bad officals call penalties left and right. Yes I know the rules are the rules.

    O.K. you wanna know how Butch I am? Here goes.

    Why do teams continue to play that lousy Prevent Defense. It prevented Arizona from winning and it nearly prevented Pittsburgh from winning too. I say don’t concede the middle by parking your Safeties deep and using a 3 man rush. If the other team burns you by going long then you deserve to lose.

  2. I have to agree with you on that one. Why not bring those guys in and blitz the hell out of the QB? Warner never, ever runs the ball. If you know this, then take the opportunity to mow him down.

    Of course, I only say that because it seems logical, not because I was rooting for the Steelers. 😉

  3. “I have to agree with you on that one. Why not bring those guys in and blitz the hell out of the QB? Warner never, ever runs the ball. If you know this, then take the opportunity to mow him down.”

    They don’t want to give it up on a big play. But it pays to give it up on big play.

    Those NFL players know who can throw deep well and who can’t. They know which receivers have the speed to go deep and come up big vs. ones who can’t. They can adjust on defense to fit that situation.

    I’d rather go with a standard defensive set and give up a TD quickly (if at all) then allow the other team to score and drain the clock!

    I saw the post game interview and Kurt Warner said after scoring the go ahead TD he was worred they left too much time on the clock. That wasn’t the real worry. The real worry was playing that lousy Prevent Defense and letting Pittsburgh walk it down to the other end and leave little time if they scored. That’s exactly what happened.

  4. I was thinking the same thing when Fitz made it to the end zone on that last TD. Something told me as I was watching it, even though we were happy and hopeful, that there was more than enough time on the clock for the Steelers to score again, and every time they showed Warner on the sidelines afterward you’d swear he was mowing his fingernails down to nubs.

    Cardinals’ defense has never been very good. This year they were very spotty. They really dropped it this time.

  5. As I recall the Steelers were penalized for the personal foul. Since there were inside the 10 yard line it was half the distance to the goal line. But that player should have been ejected.

    I do not know the finer nuances of penalties on 4th down and when the one team is punting. Roughing the kicker is a personal foul that results in first down for the kicking team. But unecessary roughness by the receiving team does not result in a first down for the kicking team.

    Anyway, the Cardinals had a remarkable year. Who would have predicted a Super Bowl appearance. It’s hard to believe it took 43 years for the Cardinals to make it to the Super Bowl. But, unlike the Lions, Saints, Jaguars and Browns they have made it. Now if you are a super purest then the New York Jets have never made it to the Super Bowl either. When they beat Baltimore it was called the NFL-AFL Championship game.

  6. I am glad my Cardinals played with class, something that I would never expect from the Steelers.

    We were the underdogs all year long according to the ‘experts’, but the Cards proved them wrong.

    GO CARDS!!!!!

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