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James Harrison’s Badassery May Change Entire NFL

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Courtesy KissingSuzyKolber

Pop Quiz: A player gets laid out by a vicious and borderline illegal hit. Less than five minutes later, the player returns to action after a cursory exam, despite the league’s mandate that all players must pass a neurological test before going back on the field. The next day, the player learns he suffered a concussion on the play and risked serious mental and physical disability by returning.

Who is more deserving of criticism: The guy who laid the player out or the player’s team for letting him go back on the field, in violation of league rules, because they felt winning a game was more important than the long-term health of their man?

If you answered the latter, then I’m with you. James Harrison‘s shot heard ’round the world has shaken up the NFL in more ways than one. Most directly, we now have the precedent set for repeat offenders being suspended when fines don’t seem to work. However, it’s the indirect result which may alter the game even more greatly in the months and years to come. And it isn’t even Silverback’s fault.
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Week 14 Recap: Big Ben > Chuck Norris

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There’s an old joke about being as useful as a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. Perhaps that saying needs to be updated in light of last night’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. Yesterday, the Browns got their asses kicked by a quarterback playing on one leg.

The Steelers 14-3 victory may not sound particularly exciting but, at the risk of hyperbole, it’ll be a game forever remembered in Pittsburgh lore. And that’s entirely due to the almost superhuman courage displayed by Ben Roethlisberger. When Ben had his ankle rolled up from behind mid-way through the second quarter, a hush fell over the Heinz Field. After hobbling off the field, then literally being carted from room to room in the back, it appeared Ben was not only lost for this game, but perhaps the rest of the regular season.

As halftime came to a close, however, there was Big Ben, still in full uniform rather than crutches or sweatpants, taking snaps like he intended to return. And return he did, despite playing with a horrific limp and making a majority of his throws flat-footed. It was an epic display of toughness by a player whose career is marked by them. Partially due to his off-field situations and partially due to his style of play, Ben has always been an underrated and slightly polarizing figure among NFL fans in general and Steeler Nation in particular. If last night didn’t finally establish once and for all that Ben is one of the toughest and most courageous players to ever lace up the cleats, I can’t help you.
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Know Thy Enemy: Cleveland Browns

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What? Know Thy Enemy on a Wednesday? This can mean only one thing: Thursday Night Football! And if you thought ESPN picked a lousy slate of games, man, you ain’t got nothin’ on the NFL Network.

It seems like every year, the AFC North is a three horse race. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are the two thoroughbreds in the hunt pretty much every season. The third horseman alternates between the Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. When one is up, the other is usually down.

During the 2009 Super Bowl Hangover year, Cincinnati took advantage of the opening by winning the division before flaming out spectacularly in their lone playoff game. Last year, the Bungles were a mess, hijacked by the clown show being put on by Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco. It was the Browns turn to look like a legitimate NFL franchise. Even though they didn’t win many games (5), rookie quarterback Colt McCoy led the team during a surprisingly competitive stretch which had people believing in a bright future for Cleveland.

Oh, those silly silly people…

The Browns are back in their customary position of irritating little bugs while the Steelers are the windshield headed right toward them tomorrow night.
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