I woke up this morning to a friend calling me asking if I had seen Harrison's latest insults of Roger Goodell. When he told me what James had said, I laughed. I have no problem with what he said about Goodell. I've hated Goodell since he first became the commish, and like James, I'll never respect him. However, when I read the rest of the article on ESPN.com, I was appalled. Harrison's comments on Big Ben and Rashard Mendenhall were downright uncalled for. It was not an off the cuff remark, it was not a slip of the tongue, this was a sit down interview with plenty of time for James to think about what he was saying.These are comments that can kill a team's trust in one another. These are comments that can divide the locker room. These are comments that T.O. or Chad Ochocinco would make for crying out loud!
What may have bothered me most is that James attacked his teammates for their play when, as a football player, he should know that their mistakes were in large part out of their control. Say what you will about Ben's inconsistency in the first 3 quarters of a game, but the man plays when the game is on the line. The pick-6 in the Superbowl was 100% not Ben's fault. Given a half second more time, Ben puts that ball perfectly in Mike Wallace's hands 40 yards downfield. Mendenhall's fumble was just a perfect hit by Clay Matthews, I challenge anyone to hold on to that ball when Matthews's helmet pops it right out. I know I'm making excuses, but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.
Anyway, this leads me to the point of this post, which is to ask you all whether you think trading Harrison would be worth it. I AM NOT ADVOCATING FOR JAMES HARRISON TO BE TRADED, I'M ASKING WHAT YOU ALL THINK.
On the one hand, James is a phenomenal player. He's one of my favorite players. I like having the most intimidating defender in the league on our team. I like having a guy who is plain old mean, he reminds me of Jack Lambert or Mean Joe Green. He's a former Defensive Player of the Year, and he has averaged over 11 sacks and 6 forced fumbles over the past 4 years. He's also only missed one game during that span.
On the other hand, he's a lightning rod for controversy. An educated fan knows that while he is mean and one of the hardest hitters in the league, the last thing he is is dirty. But most casual fans think he's dirty because of the fines Goodell hit him with last year. The Steelers have dealt with enough controversy the past few years, between Santonio Holmes, Ben, Rashard Mendenhall, Hines Ward, and now James, they have to be sick of it by now. I know I am. Lastly, as I've already touched on, this is not the sort of thing a good teammate would do. This could cause a huge distraction right as the lockout is about to be lifted and the team is allowed to go to work again.
Trading James Harrison would be a huge move, one the Steelers don't typically make. However we traded Holmes and tried to trade Ben last year, so its not like they're unwilling to do it. A trade like this would remind me of the Patriots trading Richard Seymour to the Raiders. Seymour, one of the top defensive lineman in the league during his time in New England, garnered a 1st round pick. Looking at his production compared to Harrison's, its not even close. In the 4 years leading up to the trade, Seymour averaged 4 sacks a year, forced one fumble, and missed 13 games. Yes, they play different positions, but I think that helps Harrison even more. He's a premier pass rusher, whereas Seymour was more of a run stuffer. In football, pass rushers are always going to be more valuable. Still though, Harrison is a few years older than Seymour was when he was traded, so that might drop the price a bit.
As for the Steelers, trading Harrison would save a lot of money which they could use for other, younger guys on the team. Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, and Mike Wallace will all be needing new contracts in the next year, not to mention it could help in resigning Ike Taylor. Jason Worilds showed flashes last year, and we drafted a project in Chris Carter this year in the 5th round. We should survive without him.