James Harrison was a great Pittsburgh Steeler, in many ways. However, assuming the stories coming out after his release are true, he was not a great teammate this season.
The Steelers are sharing all their Harrison stories now that he has been released and ended up with the New England Patriots. Center Maurkice Pouncey got the ball rolling with an eye-opening interview Wednesday in which he said the Steelers didn’t want to cut Harrison, but he forced his way out. And he really went out of his way to get himself cut.
Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported, according to a source, players “witnessed Harrison sleeping in a recliner during position meetings and snoring loudly while outside linebackers coach Joey Porter tried to teach.” Fowler said he would skip some meetings altogether. He’d sit out some practices with injuries, hours after doing one of his notorious workouts.
Mark Kaboly of The Athletic (there were a lot of people telling a lot of outlets Harrison stories this week) reported that Harrison refused to stand on the sideline during road games against the Colts and Bengals after he found out he was inactive. Kaboly wrote that Harrison left the stadium during the Steelers-Bengals game. It’s considered a major breach of professionalism to leave the stadium while your team’s game is going on.
Paul Zeise, a host on 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, quoted Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree as saying Harrison would never mentor him or fellow outside linebacker T.J. Watt.
“I looked up to Deebo [Harrison’s nickname] and wanted to learn from him but he didn’t want to be a mentor to us, like he didn’t want T.J. and me to be better than him,” Dupree said, via Zeise.
Zeise also quoted Dupree as saying Harrison wouldn’t visit injured linebacker Ryan Shazier in the hospital, though Zeise made it clear that he thought Dupree was referencing the regular visits the linebackers made to visit Shazier. Zeise said he didn’t believe Dupree was saying Harrison never visited Shazier, only that he wouldn’t go when the rest of the linebackers went to the hospital.
There’s also one more interesting tidbit. The Post-Gazette referenced Dupree’s interview with Zeise and he didn’t rule out that Harrison might have taken his whole playbook with him to the Patriots.
“If he did that, that’d be real fugazi, lame, L-12, pull-up-on-’em type … you can’t just take the whole playbook,” Dupree said, according to the Post-Gazette. “Now you’re going too far. But he may have did that. You never know. He may be at that point where he’s so mad, he probably just said, ‘All right, I don’t really know the playbook this year, but I’m finna take the whole playbook to Bill [Belichick] and let him do what he does.’”
Dupree clearly had no proof that Harrison did take his playbook with him. Even if he didn’t, there are plenty of other stories going around that portray Harrison as about the worst teammate the Steelers could have possibly had this season.
Pouncey said Harrison had erased his legacy with the Steelers this season, and if even half of the stories about him are true, that seems to be accurate.