He made his earliest marks on special teams for the Pittsburgh Steelers and left his mark on dozens of opponents as an outside linebacker.
James Harrison announced his retirement today from professional football after a brief flirtation with the Arizona Cardinals. Harrison has left indelible marks on the Steeler Nation. None more so than his 100-yard interception return for touchdown in Super Bowl XLIII.
For most of his last few years in Pittsburgh Harrison was forced into the unenviable job as poster boy for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ‘player safety’ campaign. While I’ll be the first to say that Harrsion often led with his head, I’ll also be the first to tell you he unfairly targeted by the league. He was not a first round draft pick and spent more time on the practice squad than he’d want to admit but when he got his chance, he came through.
Harrison was the type of defensive player that could have played in any generation of the game. This is something I don’t know we’ll be able to say in the next generation because his brand of violence will have been removed from the game.
Far from perfect, Harrison was very outspoken about his feelings towards Goodell once saying he “wouldn’t piss on him if he were on fire.” An avid gun collector as well, Harrison certainly rubbed some the wrong way, but I think there will always be a general appreciation for him.
I’m guessing he he wishes he would have taken the pay-cut the Steelers offered him prior to going to Cincinnati, but he didn’t. That’s on him and he knows it.
My wish for Harrison is that he can find life away from football. So many former gladiator types like him struggle away from the game. I hope his memories provide him enough solace because he’s given us plenty of them for sure.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteelDad and the website @SCBlitz. Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/steelcityblitz and on Fancred.com. You can hear him weekly during the season on Trib-Live Radio
photo courtesy cbs cleveland