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Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison apologizes for using anti-gay slur in Men's Journal interview

Associated Press

Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison apologized Thursday for using an anti-gay slur to refer to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in an interview with "Men's Journal," and says his critical statements about teammates were taken out of context.

Harrison posted a statement on his Twitter account, with the message: "This statement will be my only response to the Men's Journal article."

In the article, the Steelers' star criticized Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and running back Rashard Mendenhall for their play in last season's Super Bowl loss to Green Bay.

Harrison called Mendenhall a "fumble machine" for his fourth-quarter turnover and said Roethlisberger needed to "stop trying to act like Peyton Manning."

"I did make comments about my teammates when I was talking about the emotional Super Bowl loss, but the handful of words that were used and heavily publicized yesterday were pulled out of a long conversation and the context was lost," Harrison said in his statement. Obviously, I would never say that it was all Ben's or Rashard's fault that we lost the Super Bowl. That would be ridiculous. Both Ben and Rashard are great players and great teammates."

Harrison's harshest words in the article were aimed at Goodell, whom he called a "crook" and a "devil." He also said in the article of Goodell, "I hate him and will never respect him."

Harrison did not mention those insults, but did say the anti-gay slur directed at the commissioner "was not intended to be derogatory against gay people in any way. It was careless use of a slang word and I apologize to all who were offended by the remark. I am not a homophobic bigot, and I would never advocate intolerance of gay people."

Harrison was one of the most vocal critics of the NFL's crackdown last season on illegal hits. He was also heavily fined by the commissioner for delivering illegal shots. The 2008 AP Defensive Player of the Year was docked $100,000 for illegal hits last season.

In his statement Thursday night, Harrison again said that more penalties and fines for illegal hits will not make the game safer.

"I believe that the league may have been feeling increasing pressure about injuries and concussions last year, and that they panicked and put rules in place that weren't fully thought out."

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Isn't it curious that after Joe Buck and Shepard Smith shared the television screen during the Home Run Derby that both have been out sick with sore throats?

The best commentary that I've seen on this story is in an arts blog, of all places. It's here: http://thejadesphinx.blogspot.com/2011/07/barbarians-beyond-gate-1-james-harrison.html and it certainly takes Harrison to task!

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