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NFL suspends James Harrison for one game after hit on Colt McCoy

The Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker is the first player to be suspended under the league's revamped policy on helmet-to-helmet hits.

December 13, 2011|Staff and wire eports
  • Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was suspended for one game by the NFL on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was suspended for one game… (Gene J. Puskar / Associated…)

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has carved out a niche as one of the NFL's most feared defenders over the last five years by straddling the line between clean and dirty play.

After one dangerous hit too many, the league apparently has seen enough.

The NFL suspended Harrison for one game following his helmet-to-facemask hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy last Thursday, making Harrison the first player to miss game time as a penalty under the league's revamped policy on such collisions.

Harrison's agent Bill Parise said Tuesday afternoon Harrison has already filed an appeal and expects it to be heard later this week by Art Shell or Ted Cottrell, jointly appointed by the NFL and the players' association to hear such cases.

They'll have to determine Harrison's intent when he laid out McCoy late in the fourth quarter of Pittsburgh's 14-3 victory. The 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year was penalized for roughing the passer on the play and said Monday he believed the hit didn't warrant further punishment.

NFL Executive Vice President Ray Anderson disagreed, pointing out the violation marked the fifth illegal hit on a quarterback by Harrison in the last three seasons. The four-time Pro Bowler has also been fined on two other occasions for unnecessary roughness over the same period.

Barring a successful appeal, that won't be until the Steelers (10-3) face St. Louis on Christmas Eve.

Harrison has maintained the hit didn't warrant any punishment other than the 15-yard penalty, saying Monday it was obvious to him that McCoy "chucked and ducked."

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Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is questionable for next Monday's game at San Francisco due to a sprained left ankle.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Roethlisberger is "day-to-day" but is working "tirelessly" to be on the field against the 49ers.

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Two men sued Syracuse men's basketball Coach Jim Boeheim and the school for defamation Tuesday, saying they were vilified as liars out for money after they accused his longtime assistant of molesting them.

Former Syracuse ball boys and stepbrothers Bobby Davis and Mike Lang said they were molested by Bernie Fine, who has since been fired and has denied the allegations. A third man also has accused the 65-year-old Fine, who had been Boeheim's top assistant since 1976.

"It really hurt me to learn coach Boeheim had accused me of lying," Davis said, reading from a statement at a news conference after the lawsuit was filed in New York State Supreme Court.

When the allegations surfaced Nov. 17, Boeheim staunchly supported Fine, saying the accusations were lies to capitalize on the Penn State child sex abuse case.

Victim advocates reacted angrily to Boeheim's initial comments and called for him to resign or be fired. He later said he was wrong to question the motives of the accusers.

That's not enough, said attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the stepbrothers.

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The California State Athletic Commission overturned Chad Dawson's World Boxing Council light-heavyweight title victory over Bernard Hopkins, changing the outcome to a no-contest that subtracts a loss from Hopkins and lets him keep his belt.

"Of course I'm disappointed, and I believe the WBC should order a rematch," Dawson promoter Gary Shaw said.

Dawson was credited with a second-round technical knockout Oct. 15 at Staples Center after Hopkins fell to the canvas or was "slammed," according to whichever side you listened to, and suffered a shoulder injury.

The pivotal event in the no-contest ruling, Shaw said, was the changed opinion of referee Pat Russell, who testified Tuesday that the no-contest call was appropriate.

— Lance Pugmire

Luke Donald was named the 2011 PGA Tour Player of the Year, becoming the first Briton to win the award since it started in 1990. The award is decided by votes from Tour players.

American Keegan Bradley, who won this year's PGA Championship in Atlanta, was named the PGA Tour's Rookie of the Year.

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The Mountain West Conference has sent a letter to the BCS presidential oversight committee outlining why it should receive an automatic bid the next two seasons.

Commissioner Craig Thompson's letter was posted on the conference's website Tuesday.

It says the conference finished among the top five major college football leagues in two of three criteria used to determine if a seventh automatic bid will be added for the last two years of the current BCS agreement.

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South Carolina has extended football coach Steve Spurrier's contract through the 2015 season, the school said.

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Philadelphia Flyers star Claude Giroux is out indefinitely with a concussion.

Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said Giroux's symptoms have gotten worse since he suffered a head injury against Tampa Bay last week.

Giroux leads the NHL with 39 points and has led the Flyers to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

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