The ink had hardly dried on James Harrison's retirement papers when he was fielding phone calls from his former teammates after the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Carolina Panthers 37-19 on Sunday Night Football.
Harrison spoke to Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Brett Keisel for hours upon their return from Charlotte, NC, and, as he tells Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, they were the real reason for his return.
"If it weren't for Keisel, Ike and Troy, I would not have signed back." "I had to talk to my kids whether they wanted me back or not and talked to my parents. The big thing is the guys. I talked to Keisel until 4 or 5 in the morning."
"It's good to be back."
Steelers fans should feel the same way. Harrison, even at age 36, should be able to be a factor on the defensive side of the ball that now only employs three natural outside linebackers on its 53-man roster.
If there's one thing that everyone should know by now, it's that James Harrison is in good shape.
"I'm in good shape. Of Course, not in football shape because I'm not in football yet."
Fans heard the same sentiment when Brett Keisel returned to the team after missing all of training camp and most of the preseason. Keisel has proved he can still play, and Harrison looks to do the same thing.
Harrison will not be counted on to start, at least not right away, and that's something that will only benefit him and the team moving forward. If Harrison can prove he can still rush the passer and still set the edge on the run game, there's no doubt he can be effective for this Steelers team.
For those doubting if a pass rusher can have success at age 36, you don't have to look further than the great defenses of the 1990's to find Kevin Greene who started 21 games and collected 27 sacks in 2 seasons after turning 36.
If the Steelers could get half of that production from Harrison, his return will be considered a phenomenal move by the organization.