I agree with everything except the part I highlighted in red. I've never thought that penalty was a big deal, and in fact I'm still not convinced it's even a penalty. Harrison does two things we're not used to seeing, but I don't see how either of them is a personal foul. Here it is. 1. After thwarting Francisco's dive at Harrison's knees, he chucks the back of Francisco's shoulder pad with an open hand, with kind of half strength, to keep him down. Francisco rests there for a moment not really trying to get up. 2. As Francisco is getting up and on a knee, Harrison hand chucks him right in the chest, full strength, sending Francisco back to the ground. I'm not sure, but I assume the problem most people have is this one, not the first. It was an ass-kicking, and an unusual one, both in how he did it and how far away it was from the play. But I still don't know if it was against the rules. A) the way he contacted Francisco is usually legal. It wasn't a hold, or blow to the head, or kick, or anything like that. It was normal blocking contact. B) Even though it was "away from the play" and in the end (because the punt was not fielded) had no relevance, technically speaking the play was still going on; Francisco was a defender, and Harrison was charged with blocking him. What if the punt had been fielded and returned? Let's be honest, if our punt return team was so dope that they could just knock the coverage team down at the line of scrimmage and keep them there, wouldn't we want that? Imagine Holmes returning a punt and the whole punt team is still on the line of scrimmage getting their asses kicked. That would be great football if it's done legally. Normally guys in Harrison's position run away and block 30 yards downfield, but if you can do it that effectively right there, why not? The call was "unnecessary roughness", which is usually more clear cut (late hit on a runner after he was obviously down or out of bounds, blow to the head, etc.). Here, the call seems to literally be, "Hey man.... that was too rough." It reminds me of how Ryan Clark used to get flagged for devastating hits (which should have been legal) just because they were so strong. I hate that kind of call. The only legitimate thing I can imagine is that you're not allowed to resume blocking a player until he's back on both feet. Is that a rule? The 2008 NFL rule book mentions acts against players who are vulnerable and "obviously out of the play", but the example it gives is a holder who is kneeling after the ball has been kicked through the uprights. That's very different from a guy who is covering a punt still in play and just isn't trying hard at the moment. It also mentions striking a player who "(i) is out of the play or (ii) should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent, before or after the ball is dead; or throwing the runner to the ground after the ball is dead". Obviously the ball wasn't dead, but to me the remaining questions, whether Francisco was out of the play, and whether he should have seen it coming, are one and the same. They are far from the play, but not behind the play. It's a punt return, Francisco could absolutely make a tackle. It's not like the returner had already run by them and was on his way into the end zone, putting him behind and out of the play. He was still an active, relevant defender. Personally I've always thought John Madden's absolutely egregious call of the play, saying definitively that Harrison "ought to be thrown out for that" and accused him of "punching a guy when he's down" influenced how people remember the play. Al Michaels also erroneously called it as "after the play," but of course the ball was still in the air. To me the worst thing you can say about what Harrison did on that play is that it was in poor taste. Maybe it was. But it was also in retaliation for what he felt was poor taste, Francisco going for his knees (and he had done the same to Gary Russell earlier in the game). So maybe it was a douchey thing to do, but it's in the context of getting someone back for a douchey thing. We could debate about two wrongs making a right all day long, but we can all agree that sometimes it's forgivable. For example, I've always despised taunting, but even I smiled when Juju walked over the barely-conscious Vontaze Burfict. That's bad sportsmanship I can forgive. I don't think Francisco going for a cut block is that bad (hell, if I had to block James F***ing Harrison that's what I'd do too; not even the best OTs could stop him, so some mediocre safety has zero chance), and I don't think Harrison's response is that bad. I think both should be non-calls - just two guys legally ignoring the "unwritten rules" saying it's not nice to do those things. I think Francisco should have just accepted it like Wes Welker did. I also don't think the officials making the call is that bad, either, whether it technically should be a penalty or not. It's blurry small potatoes, and I'm fine with all of it. The only problem I had was the reaction from people like Madden. This was a nothing play that shouldn't affect anything, let alone who won Super Bowl MVP (should have been Harrison) or anyone's legacy (except maybe John Madden). I love what Harrison did on the field for the Steelers. I don't have much beef with him for the way he left. His legacy (like a lot of guys) should reflect that he was a jerk generally speaking, and committed domestic violence. But I say leave the punt return out of it.