It looks as though that helmet hit Joshua Cribbs took from James Harrison last Sunday did more damage than anyone thought.
It seems the blow did a lot more than knock him out of the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It has severely interfered with his thought processes.
Cribbs today defended Harrison's cheap-shot kill shot. "I had the ball and was going down (in the arms of Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley) and he came in to clean me up," Cribbs told reporters. "It's his job to try and put me out of the game." As Cribbs was going down, Harrison deliberately delivered a helmet-to-helmet shot on the defenseless Cribbs that snapped his head violently to the right. He left the game and did not return.
So by Cribbs' definition, Harrison clearly did his job by putting him out of the game. Well done, James. Is that sarcastic enough?
"He's like a heat-seeeking missile," said Cribbs. "I have the football and he's targeting me. He's not like, 'I've got to hit him properly, let me aim at his legs.' He's just trying to get me down by any means possible. I would do the same. . . . He plays to knock people out. That's what good linebackers do."
Wait a minute. That's what good linebackers do? Is that what makes them good? And if they don't knock people of of the game, somehow they aren't as good as those who do? If the ball carrier gets up, you haven't done your job? Is that what football has become?
And what's wrong with hitting an opponent properly? The goal should be to take him down within the rules, not try and put him out of the game.
"You're a player, so play," Cribbs said he told his former Kent State University teammate, who was fined $75,000 by the National Football League and threatened to retire. Cribbs said he thinks he might have been responsible for Harrison's decision to continue to play. Yeah, like he was seriously thinking about retiring.
As for Harrison's double-forearm shiver shot on teammate Mo Massaquoi, the one the NFL levied the huge fine on, Cribbs clammed up. "I can't really comment on that hit because I don't want to offend Massaquoi. That's my boy, too."
Reading between the lines, that kill shot was just another football play even though his "boy" won't suit up Sunday in New Orleans because he got his brains scrambled by Harrison. Wonder if Massaquoi feels the same way.
"If (Harrison) played for our team, we'd be applauding his efforts," said Cribbs. "If he were on our team, we'd be rallying around him just like his team is doing for him. . . . Wouldn't you want a linebacker like that on your team?" Quick answer: No.
On that point, unfortunately, he's correct. Perfect example was T. J. Ward's borderline-dirty hit on Cincinnati wide receiver Jordan Shipley a couple of weeks ago that drew a flag and disdain from Browns fans. It all depends on who's doing the hitting.
Had Browns linebacker Scott Fujita missile-sought Hines Ward and Mike Wallace of the Steelers and put them out of the game, the bitching and moaning would be coming from Pittsburgh and all the preening from Cleveland.
It's a matter of perspective.