James Harrison, now a member of the AFC rival New England Patriots, wanted out of Pittsburgh because of playing time, according to multiple Steelers
"He erased his own legacy," Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey told ESPN.
According to his now-former teammates, everything went according to plan for Harrison, who was unhappy with a limited role that included 40 snaps in 14 games.
Coach Mike Tomlin briefly explained the release Tuesday, citing the need for a corresponding roster move with Marcus Gilbert's return from suspension.
"If you didn't want to be here, come out and say it," Pouncey said. "Don't make it look like it's the team's fault. ... You think the team and the organization wanted to get rid of James Harrison? Come on, now. If I wanted out, I wouldn't let the team take the blame for it."
Added linebacker Bud Dupree: "I don't want the media to portray that we're the reason he left. That ain't the reason. He chose to leave. He made certain decisions, and his actions got him to this circumstance."
Cornerback Artie Burns said Harrison's "energy" showed the team he was upset over a lack of playing time, which created "a whole thing with him and the guys upstairs," leading to his release on Saturday.
"I guess [New England is] where he wanted to be," Burns said.
Bill Parise, Harrison's agent, said Saturday the parting was amicable, but Harrison was "clearly" frustrated over his role in the defense.