James Harrison, Mike Tomlin

James Harrison says Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin did not offer a bounty for an illegal hit on a member of the Cleveland Browns, though he told former teammate Willie Colon on a podcast that Tomlin handed him an envelope shortly after Harrison was fined in 2010 for a helmet-to-helmet hit. Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

James Harrison has been retired for more than two years, but he’s still causing controversy for the Steelers.

Harrison went on Willie Colon’s “Going Deep” podcast earlier this week and insinuated that Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin violated NFL rules in 2010 after Harrison was fined $75,000 for a hit on Browns receiver Mohamed Massaqoui.

“The G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that,” Harrison told his former teammate as part of a 90-minute interview. “I ain’t gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.”

Harrison, a frequent critic of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and of the league’s player safety initiatives during his 15-year career, took to social media Friday to stress that whatever Tomlin did, it was not to reward the hit.

“Mike T. Has NEVER paid me for hurting someone or TRYING to hurt someone or put a bounty on ANYBODY!” Harrison wrote in a lengthy Instagram post that alleged the NFL only fined him because it was under pressure due to concussion lawsuits filed against the league.

Saints Coach Sean Payton was suspended for the 2012 season for his role in “Bountygate,” when the NFL scandal accused the Saints of paying players bonuses for injuring players on other teams from 2009-11. He does not expect an investigation.

“If people are waiting for the league to investigate that, they shouldn’t hold their breath,” Payton said in a radio interview on WJZ in Baltimore. “I think what took place with us back in 2011 in so many ways was a sham, and yet there wasn’t a lot we could do with it.

The players were vindicated, but from a league or coaching standpoint, there is no union, there is no representation.”

Not only was Payton suspended for an entire season, but defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely. General Manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games, and the Saints organization was fined $500,000. They also were docked second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013.

Payton was skeptical the NFL will investigate Tomlin.

“I would be shocked,” Payton said. “That’ll be something that’s tucked away or under the rug at Park Avenue. They’ll look into it briefly. Listen, don’t get me started on that. I lost $6 million in salary, and honestly it was something that I’ll never truly get over because I know how it was handled and how it was run and the reasons behind it. That’s just the truth.”

Putting “bounties” on players is against NFL rules. Paying fines for players is against the rules, too.

The Steelers are pushing back hard on Harrison’s comments.

“I am very certain nothing like this ever happened,” Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a statement Thursday evening. “I have no idea why James would make a comment like this, but there is simply no basis for believing anything like this.”

Harrison’s and Tomlin’s relationship was strained after the Steelers released Harrison late in the 2017 season. But Harrison said the relationship has since been repaired.

At least it had been until Harrison’s hit on Massaquoi became a hot topic again.

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