Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, right, sits on the bench during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Pittsburgh. Harrison has been suspended for one game without pay for his hit last week on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has carved out a niche as one of the NFL's most feared defenders over the last five years by straddling the line between clean and dirty play.

After one dangerous hit too many, the league apparently has seen enough.

The NFL suspended Harrison for one game following his helmet-to-facemask hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy last Thursday, making Harrison the first player to miss game time as a penalty under the league's revamped policy on such collisions.

Harrison's agent Bill Parise said Tuesday afternoon Harrison has already filed an appeal and expects it to be heard later this week by Art Shell or Ted Cottrell, jointly appointed by the NFL and the players' association to hear such cases.

They'll have to determine Harrison's intent when he laid out McCoy late in the fourth quarter of Pittsburgh's 14-3 victory. The 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year was penalized for roughing the passer on the play and said Monday he believed the hit didn't warrant further punishment.

TEBOW'S FUTURE: Tim Tebow's fans want to know what else the man has to do to win over the Denver Broncos' brain trust.

He's won seven of eight games since taking over as their starting quarterback, turning a team that was foundering at 1-4 under Kyle Orton into an improbable playoff contender at 8-5, atop the AFC West.

Still, coach John Fox is reticent about committing to Tebow for the long term, saying he'd rather focus on the task at hand, which is ending Denver's five-year playoff drought.

Football chief John Elway created an Internet firestorm last month when he said that he didn't know if his QB of the future was on the roster. He's since smoothed things over with Tebow and pledged to work with the unconventional quarterback in the offseason.

DOLPHINS PLAYERS SURPRISED: A number of key Dolphins have expressed their surprise that coach Tony Sparano was fired with only three games remaining in the season.

Chad Henne, Will Allen, Davone Bess, Dan Carpenter, Brian Hartline and Brandon Fields have spoken with the media while taking part Tuesday in the annual Fins for Kids Holiday Toy Event at Dolphins training camp. More than 160 children attended the party.

Sparano was fired Monday, a day after the team lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. In his almost four years as Dolphins coach, Sparano compiled a 29-32 record, 4-9 this season.

Some players say they haven't had that much contact with Todd Bowles, the defensive backs coach promoted to interim head coach. However, most thought he would be up to the task.