Before former Kansas City Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel leaves the NFL behind for a coaching career at Ohio State, he is making it clear that the NFLPA would take issue if Pittsburgh Steelers LB James Harrison was disciplined for his degrading comments about Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“Roger’s got big shoulders,” Vrabel observed. “Roger understands. I would say to Roger or anybody else that had a problem with it, I would say what Bill (Belichick) said to us: To (those who) much is given, much is expected. And Roger is given a lot in form of compensation and being in the situation that he’s in so there’s a lot expected of him. And if that means taking the higher road and calling James and trying to figure out how to get this thing settled between them or whatever issue they have going on.”
Vrabel attempted to put some context into Harrison’s words saying, “Do you think that Roger Goodell is a crook? I don’t think that anyone would read that and think that he’s somehow taking the money that James Harrison is fined and putting it in his pocket. I don’t think anyone believes that. I think it was said as, ‘Man, this guy is taking money from me fining me and my teammates and players around the league.’ … You just need to take it at 30,000 feet and move on.”
I wouldn’t expect Vrabel to speak out against Harrison, but to try and turn the tables and put this on Goodell is a bit of a stretch. It isn’t Goodell’s fault that Harrison decided to pop off in some of the most over the top ways.
You won’t find anyone more defensive of free speech, but like Vrabel said: to those who much is given, much is expected. That means Harrison has to act like a professional and when he doesn’t, there should be consequences.