Despite Bud Dupree chirping away at him, it appears that Pittsburgh Steelers all-time sack leader James Harrison does have a legitimate case in his decision to sign with New England.
He says he asked the team on three occasions to just release him if they weren't going to play him. They hardly played him, and still didn't release him.
Harrison, the former NFL defensive player of the year, said he isn’t mad or upset the Steelers released him Saturday, calling it “a business decision," noted the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. But he added that he had to make a business decision, too, and did when he signed with the Patriots on Tuesday — a decision he admitted to making with some hesitation because of what the Patriots have represented to the Steelers.
“I have to assume when they say you’re going to get 25 percent of the snaps and you get 25, safe to say things didn’t go as planned,” Harrison told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday.
“After the first week of the season, I said to them, it’s clear you want to play your younger guys and I understand, so why don’t you release me. You go on your way and I’ll go on mine. They said, ‘No, no, no, we got a role for you.’ ”
“After that, I didn’t play anymore,” Harrison said of the Kansas City game. “By then, I had stopped asking them [to release me].”
Harrison said the breaking point came after the 27-24 loss to the Patriots, a game in which he said he was told during the week “to be ready, that I’d get a lot of [playing] time. I didn’t get any snaps.
“If I didn’t play in the biggest game of the year, that told me I wouldn’t get any more snaps. So all that lip service you gave me before didn’t matter.”
Harrison said he went back to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin the following day and asked to be released. Harrison said Tomlin told him, “I’d have to be absolutely crazy to release you if something happened with injuries.”
Five days later, the day before they traveled to Houston for a Christmas Day game, the Steelers released him.
Harrison said Tomlin told him to “stay in shape in case we come back to you in a month.”
In this writer's humble opinion, no player should wait around for someone to want them after they've proven they have no use for him.
The Post-Gazette continued:
Harrison said: “I can’t sit there on ‘ifs,’ and I’m not playing. I wasn’t upset, I’m not mad, it’s a business. But at the end of the day, I have to make a business decision.
“I cleared waivers, New England had called and said they wanted me to come up and we talked. At 4:30 that afternoon, I flew to Boston and there was no communication from the Steelers about anything.”
Harrison was asked about the public perception that he might be considered a “traitor” for signing with the Patriots, the team that has deprived the Steelers of three additional Super Bowl appearances since 2001, including last season.
Harrison admitted there was “a little hesitation” at first and even called Steelers linebacker coach and former teammate Joey Porter to ask him what he thought.
“I explained the situation to him and he said, ‘I’m not going to sit here and tell you not to do something when you’re making a business decision,’ “ Harrison said. “I made a decision based on what was best for me.”
Harrison said he took about 30 snaps Wednesday in practice and has been told he will play in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the New York Jets. He said Patriots coach Bill Belichick “has not asked me one thing” about the Steelers.