The Steelers asked James Harrison to take a pay cut in 2013.
Harrison declined. The Steelers released Harrison, and with him, went a player Pro Football Focus believes was the best all-around edge rusher in the league over the last five years.
That seems right. Maybe I'm biased, but we didn't see a player as all-around dominant from that position as Harrison.
What pushed Harrison to the top was his ability to do it all. The Steelers' scheme asked a lot out of him, and more than you'd tend to require from a guy chiefly known as an edge rusher. Yet, not only did he impress dropping into coverage, but he was extremely productive rushing the passer, and a true force in the run game lining up chiefly as the right outside linebacker for the Steelers in each of his five years.
Harrison had outstanding pass rushing seasons, and was always effective against the run. He did well in coverage, if for no reason than his sheer intimidation.
We can celebrate Harrison's past with the team, as he will fairly be considered one of the best linebackers in the history of a franchise loaded with outstanding linebackers. Harrison isn't likely to get in the Hall of Fame due more to a shorter career than many of his contemporaries, but that remains to be seen.
In the meantime, we have to deal with seeing him wear a Bengals uniform for at least a season. This is neither fun nor pleasant, but this at least gives us a reason to remember when Harrison was on the right side; our side.