Rodney Harrison Can’t Help It

Athlete pettiness is so real.

Athlete pettiness is so real.

He was one of the NFL’s historically dirty players, and that’s saying a lot for a league that used to allow defense lineman to slap opposing tackles and guards upside the head.

He’s Rodney Harrison, who following a stellar career as an NFL defensive back, has worked hard to earn and maintain a rep as a no-nonsense, call-it-like-I-see-it analyst for NBC Sports.

But he’s still dirty.

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And while he’s not particularly insightful, at least not while paired with Tony Dungy on a set, he goes out of his way to criticize players talents, commitment and integrity — on and off the field.

Last night, he explained comments he made about the Baltimore Ravens being in a tight position because they had to rely on 37-year-old receiver Steve Smith as a primary option in the passing attack.

Smith clapped back.

He accused the LA Rams of a dirty style of play that is typical of teams coached by longtime NFL coach Jeff Fisher.

Fisher clapped back.

“This is coming from a guy that had 18 unnecessary roughness penalties, seven personal fouls, four roughing the passer penalties, a total of 77 penalties in his career,” Fisher said. “And was voted three times the ‘Dirtiest Player in the National Football League’ and was suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Jerry Rice in 2002.”

He called, and eventually apologized for diminishing Colin Kaepernick’s blackness in the context of his pro-black protests during the pre-game national anthem.

Some athletes do it to keep up a brand, some athletes do it because they legitimately don’t have the social graces to do better. And then there’s Harrison, who appears to understand and enjoy having a antagonist’s brand that doesn’t particularly pay off for him in any easily seen endorsement capacity, and regularly has his network in the spotlight for comments which really don’t make sense.

And it’s not just him, but the entire package of pettiness would appear to be something NBC execs would be wary of in light of the league’s plummeting ratings and the negative, unnecessary his opinions seem to generate for no reason. Harrison talks about players for exactly what they are — replaceable parts who, when misaligned, do harm to the machine.

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Someone should tell him that as an ancillary component in that machine, there’s dozens of former players with as much eloquence, far more charisma and fewer enemies, who on any given Sunday could replace him.