In a week’s time, James Harrison went from being a respected member of the Pittsburgh Steelers to a member of an arch rival. Harrison wanted to leave the Steelers due to playing time and was granted his wish, but many Steelers are upset about how it happened.
According to now former teammates, for Harrison everything went just as planned. The former star with the Steelers was not happy playing a limited role of 40 snaps over a period of 14 games.
However, the veteran linebacker said that while he did anticipate having a reduced role in 2017, he was not happy he played less than he expected.
Harrison’s Lack of Playing Time Upset Him
Harrison told a Pittsburgh newspaper that he spoke to the Steelers coaches as far back as the second week of the season saying he understood the team was going to player younger players and why not just release him. His coaches responded no, saying they had a role for him for the season.
Harrison said he then stopped asking to be released after playing 15 snaps in Pittsburgh’s win against Kansas City in Week 6. Although, he said the team told him to be ready to play several snaps during the teams Week 15 games against New England, he did not play any.
Following that game, Harrison said if he did not play for the team in its most important game of the 2017 regular season, it told him he would not see any more snaps.
Pittsburgh Coach Calculated in Explanation
On Tuesday, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin explained the release of Harrison briefly citing a need for a move to make room for the return of Marcus Gilbert from suspension.
However, although Tomlin appeared calculated in his explanation, Harrison’s teammates were not with Pouncey calling his former teammate out for not going public with his frustrations. Telling the media, if a player does not want to be in Pittsburgh then say it publicly, but do not make it appear as if it is the fault of the team.
Bud Dupree a linebacker for the Steelers said he did not want the media portraying that the reason Harrison left was because of the team. Dupree added that Harrison chose to leave, made his own decisions, and his actions caused this.
Artie Burns a Pittsburgh cornerback said the energy of Harrison showed the players he was upset about not playing, which created a thing between him and the guys in the front office, which led to him being released.
An inside source with the team says Harrison did a great deal to make sure he was released, was successful and now plans to see how much playing time he gets with the Patriots.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would not say that the Harrison signing means his team is going to get intelligence on Pittsburgh.
Harrison’s agent Bill Parise said that the parting between Harrison and the Steelers was amicable although Harrison has been frustrated the entire season about the role he has had on defense.
Pouncey was upset with his former teammates because he feels Harrison had a responsibility as a veteran Steeler to do what was best for the entire team and that includes mentoring the younger players.
How do you feel? Should Harrison have accepted his limited role and stayed with the Steelers? Is this going to affect the Steelers negatively as a team?