On the field for the Pittsburgh Steelers, linebacker James Harrison is a relentless force of nature. A former defensive player of the year, Harrison holds nothing back and offers no apologies for his actions.
Off the field, nothing much changes with Harrison. He is brash, outspoken and firm with his beliefs and opinions. Normally, Harrison loathes to speak to the media, except on Fridays and game-days; but when the topic came up of gun control in the wake of the recent murder-suicide of Kansas City linebacker Jovan Belcher, Harrison made his opinion on the subject known loud and clear.
"It's a big issue as far as what happened and everything, it's a sad story,'' Harrison told USA TODAY Sports. "But the fact of it being part of the guns … They want to say it's guns and all this other stuff. It's ridiculous. He did it. And he alone is responsible for it. It has nothing to do with the guns."
"Somebody goes out and kills somebody with a knife, you going to blame the knife? Somebody goes out and kills somebody by pushing somebody in front of a train, you going to start cutting off the guy's arms? You going to start blaming people's arms now? It's the person who did it who is responsible.''
Harrison has been known for his pro-gun stance since being the cover story for Men's Journal in August of 2011. In the cover picture, Harrison posed with two handguns across his bare chest. A collector with over 20 guns in his collection, Harrison continued to talk about how it was the person and not the gun that is to blame.
"It's not an athlete thing, it's a human thing,'' the 34-year-old linebacker said.
"If you go and say, 'Alright, now we're going to take guns away from everybody, and the only person who is going to have guns are the police ... if that was a good thing and that's actually how it would go, then that would work."
"But the two people who are going to have the guns then are the police and the criminals. So now I know I can break into every house in the country that doesn't have a gun in it because they're no longer allowed to carry handguns. That's not going to solve things. It's only going to cause more problems.''
When asked if the tragedy orchestrated by Belcher had made Harrison reconsider his stance on gun control any, Harrison was emphatic in his refusal to budge on his beliefs.
"No, no,'' he said. "I have my guns. I'm going to keep my guns. I'm going to use my guns responsibly and go from there. It's not as far as athletes needing guns (for protection). It's the right to bear firearms. You never know. You may need it for protection. A lot of people like to hunt. And so on and so forth."
"It's not the gun that did it. No one convinced me to have a gun. I was fascinated with guns when I was a little kid. When I was able to finally get my first gun, I bought a 12-gauge."
With Harrison so strongly in the corner of those who embrace the right to bear arms, it is not recommended that any criminals try anything with any property associated with Harrison.
For their own sake.
"Everybody has the right to protect themselves. Period. Home invasions,'' Harrison said.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: Getty