There is simply no question that one of the hardest things for fans to do in this era of free agency in professional sports is move on and let go. Failing to understand the business side of pro football in this case is part of it as is basic loyalty to an individual player.
In the case of former, yes I said former, Pittsburgh Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison, the is still much attention paid but maybe it is he who needs to move on. In the weeks following his release he has been rumored to be a target of the Baltimore Ravens and more recently the Cincinnati Bengals. According to most reports, Harrison was very close to signing with the Bengals but the sides have since drifted apart and Harrison once again finds himself adrift in the sea of free agency.
Fact is that Harrison had an opportunity to stay with the Steelers at what I would consider a pretty healthy sum of money. Yes, a 30% cut in salary is tough for anyone but when you’re already making over $6 million dollars I think you can suck it up a little. The Steelers were also willing to make his losses up in terms of performance-based initiatives.
The only one to blame for Harrison’s current position is Harrison himself. I have no problem with veteran players who want to keep playing the game even into their mid-to-late thirties because it really is all they know. I never bemoaned Brett Favre for his back and forth ways and won’t do it with any other player either.
If rumors are accurate that Harrison “hates the Steelers” then shame on him. They gave him opportunities when no other team in the league would and again gave him a chance to make good money even with a pay cut.
While fans need to get over seeing Harrison in another uniform, Harrison must also get over what he must feel is ‘unfair treatment’ by the Steelers’ organization. He’s 35 and has a lot of mileage on his body and those miles don’t come off regardless of how much acupuncture you receive in a week.
James Harrison authored some great moments in the black ‘n gold and we as fans should not forget that. When and if he ever re-appears on the turf at Heinz Field in a uniform not of the Steelers, I will not boo and hiss at him. I will cheer him as a guy who gave an awful lot of himself to bring two more Lombardi Trophies to Pittsburgh.
Unfortunately, it is appearing that Harrison is going to be another in a long line of ‘former’ players who bash their former organization for no other reason than their own greed.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.