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The James Harrison Anthology: Monumental moments in the career of ‘Deebo’

With James Harrison announcing his retirement from football, BTSC recalls his Steeler career J.K. Rowling style.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

So James Harrison has announced his retirement from the NFL for the second time in his career. This one seems like it is going to stick. Whether you love James Harrison or are still sour due to the circumstances which resulted in his exit, there’s no denying the place he occupies in Steelers lore.

  • 573 tackles
  • 84.5 sacks
  • 34 forced fumbles
  • 8 interceptions
  • 5 Pro Bowl selections
  • 2x First-Team All Pro
  • 2x Super Bowl Champion
  • 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year
  • One of the most monumental plays in Super Bowl history

In a bizarre way, I kind of liken him to an American football wizard a la Harry Potter. He’s kind of a Gryffindor/Slytherin hybrid. So with that being written, let’s recount eight memorable moments of Harrison’s storied Steeler career in Potter form. Welcome to the wizarding world of James Harrison.

James Harrison and the Yuletide Body Slam

’Twas 2005’s night before Christmas and the Steelers were on their way to hanging an embarrassing beatdown on their AFC North rivals, the Cleveland Browns. Then 24-year old Nathan Mallett, who was Blitzened and Rudolped beyond belief while watching his team get demolished 41-0 by the hated Steelers, evaded security and ran onto the field waving his hands in the air like he just didn’t care. He was feeling pretty good until he ran past the Steeler linebacker, who like a Krampus, body slammed Mallett and held him to the Ohio turf. Mallett was rewarded for his actions by being banned from Browns games for five years and serving jail time over Super Bowl weekend, which the Steelers triumphed. Harrison’s ascent into Steeler legend and lore pretty much started here.

James Harrison and the Batterred Birdies

A year before James Harrison was named NFL MVP, the Kent Stater thoroughly dominated a team that cut him early on during Monday Night Football. On November 5th 2007 while Ben Roethlisberger threw five touchdown passes in a 38-7 home romp over the Ravens, Harrison had a career line on defense. Deebo had a monster night that consisted of nine tackles, three-and-a-half quarterback sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and an interception. It was like Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Jason Gildon and Joey Porter all wrapped up into one.

James Harrison and the Tiptoe in Tampa

Super Bowl XLIII Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

This was in my opinion the greatest play in Super Bowl history. With the Steelers up 10-7 on Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII a mere seconds before halftime, Harrison fell back into coverage instead of blitzing Kurt Warner. The pick-off two-yards deep in the end zone spearheaded a mad dash to the opposite end zone behind a convoy of Steelers. Harrison skirted the sideline numerous times and miraculously plummeted to paydirt with zeros on the clock. If a winded Harrison falls even a foot short, the score doesn’t change and the play merely prevents a Cardinals score. However, Harrison’s amazing 100-yard dash resulted in a 14-point swing in an eventual 27-23 nail biter.

James Harrison and the Plastered Passer: Part One

The body slams continued when Harrison and Brett Keisel tossed the Tennessee’s Vince Young like one would flip a pancake without a spatula in a 2010 victory over the Titans. All that medicine ball and “Danny Ball” training came in handy.

James Harrison and the (Not So) Fine, Fine Day

It was not a good day for Harrison in October of 2010 when the 32-year old was relieved of $75,000 by Roger Goodell for a helmet-rattling hit on Cleveland’s Mohamed Massaquoi. Before the hit on Massaquoi, No. 92 was not penalized (or fined) on a hit on Josh Cribbs. Cribbs was running out of the wildcat when his and Harrison’s helmets collided, resulting in a concussion. James then rammed Massaquoi helmet-to-helmet as he ran across the middle attempting to catch a pass. The fines kickstarted the Steelers linebacker’s hatred for Goodell, in which he threatened retirement. “I’m going to sit down and have a serious conversation with my coach tomorrow and see if I can actually play by NFL rules and still be effective,” Harrison was quoted as saying. “If not, I may have to give up playing football.” Harrison was unflatteringly pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated for the Massaquoi hit. His public perception outside of Pittsburgh as a dirty player was in full force.

James Harrison and the Dissed Commish

No. 92 never has had any love for the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell. This is mainly due to Goodell’s perceived persecution of defensive players like Harrison. Goodell has cracked down and mercilessly fined Deebo over the years. In a 2011 article in Men’s Journal, Harrison was forthcoming and did not sugarcoat his vitriol for Goodell by aying...

“If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn’t do it. I hate him and will never respect him.”

James Harrison and the Plastered Passer: Part Two

What is it that Harrison has against Cleveland? In December of 2011, about a year and two months removed from the Massaquoi and Cribbs hits, James became the first NFL player to be suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit. As QB Colt McCoy released the ball, Harrison lambasted the former Texas Longhorn with a jarring hit and the helmets of the two players intercected. McCoy was concussed and Harrison was painted as villainous once again.

James Harrison and the Kansas City Closeout

It is no secret that Harrison’s tenure in Pittsburgh ended disappointingly with his release on Christmas Eve of 2017. Whether you blame James or the Steelers, Harrison proved he had gas left in the tank with New England in the playoffs. However earlier in the season, the Steelers were trying to hold on to a lead in the final moments of a game against the unbeaten Chiefs in Kansas City. Harrison, who had been used less than sparingly in 2017, was brought in for the game’s final series. Harrison, who eight months earlier forced Chiefs tackle Eric Fisher into a hold that negated a game-tying 2PC in the playoffs, found himself lined up against Fisher with the game on the line again. Up 19-13 on a 3rd and ten at the Steelers 40, Deebo victimized Fisher on the bull rush and sacked Alex Smith for the victory.

Now the Super Bowl pick-six is a given to be the mist epic Harrison moment, but which one rates next? Vote for your other favorite Deebo moment in the poll and despite the recent negativity...Thank you James for the memories.


Besides the obvious Super Bowl 43 100-yard return, what do you consider the most epic moment in the Steeler career James Harrison?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    James Harrison and the Yuletide Body Slam
    (85 votes)
  • 48%
    James Harrison and the Batterred Birdies
    (218 votes)
  • 2%
    James Harrison and the Pkastered Passer: Part One (Vince Young)
    (13 votes)
  • 6%
    James Harrison and the (Not So) Fine, Fine Day (Massaquoi and Cribbs hits)
    (28 votes)
  • 4%
    James Harrison and the Dissed Commish
    (21 votes)
  • 4%
    James Harrison and the Plastered Passer: Part Two (Colt McCoy)
    (20 votes)
  • 10%
    James Harrison and the Kansas City Closeout
    (49 votes)
  • 4%
    (19 votes)
453 votes total Vote Now