Dick LeBeau knows the kind of praise James Harrison deserves

Justin K. Aller

The Steelers' dominant teams of the 2000s were largely accented by the brute force of outside linebacker James Harrison. He'll make his first trip back to Heinz Field as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.

The Dolphins come to town, it draws a lukewarm response from Steelers fans. Grumbling, mostly, nothing significant. The media write about his reaction to that, underscoring a general point to Wallace fans won't want to see him.

James Harrison comes to town, and people start breaking out first-person narratives about him.

That's the difference between a guy who passed over for some time and a guy who became a legend.

ESPN's Scott Brown wrote a great story about how he cost Harrison $25,000 for asking him a follow-up question about the officiating in a Steelers' win over the Jaguars in 2008.

Writes Brown:

Nobody that I have covered on a regular basis could intimidate the way James Harrison does, and that is one of many reasons why Steelers fans need to cheer him Sunday night even though he will be playing in a Bengals uniform at Heinz Field.

That may say it all. He's making an overarching point that Steelers fans should cheer for James Harrison - to whatever degree it doesn't interfere with Pittsburgh winning Sunday's game.

The "Renegade" highlight reel was accentuated by Harrison for years. It couldn't have been fully made without a few of his highlights over the years. Super Bowl XLIII may be remembered for a pass, but the interception was truly the unique aspect of that game. The league's first ever Defensive Player of the Year who wasn't drafted became the recipient of the longest interception return in Super Bowl history - a momentum-swinging play in which it honestly looked like his chest was about to explode at about the 80-yard mark.

I can't claim to have seen enough football for this to really have any weight, but it's the most amazing play I've ever seen. But when Dick LeBeau says that, it should mean something.

Along with saying LeBeau thinks it was the best play in Super Bowl history, he gives the quote that should resonate with all Steelers fans when Harrison is introduced at Heinz Field Sunday night.

"He's one of the greatest Steelers defenders," LeBeau said of Harrison, who was cut three times by the Steelers before finally sticking with the team. "I'm not going to wish him success in the game, but I do love the man." As for the reception Harrison will receive from Steelers fans, LeBeau said, "I know what he'll get from me."

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