The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base has been taken over the coals the past 24 hours with the news of fan favorite James Harrison jettisoning to the New England Patriots after he was released by the team Friday to make room for Marcus Gilbert.
There is a lot of emotion involving this transaction, and rightfully so, but as Mike Tomlin said regarding decisions like this, sometimes you have to make tough calls in football.
Mike Tomlin on James Harrison release: "It’s just life in football. Sometimes you have toi make tough decisions."— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 26, 2017
In the wake of this news, I felt it necessary to give my thoughts on the situation, and none of them hinge on Harrison being called a traitor for finding a new team after the Steelers cut him.
10 things I know...
1. Please stop with intel sharing
Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have owned the Steelers. They don’t need James Harrison for potential intel. They could possibly use him on the field, but not to bring more information than what can be gleaned from a season’s worth of game film.
2. Harrison will have a chance to play, and why not
Harrison was the 5th OLB on the Steelers’ roster. He wasn’t going to see the field much, if at all, the rest of this season. He is now at a place where he has a legitimate shot to play every week.
3. This move likely has nothing to do with the Steelers
The Patriots are smart, but don’t think the team doesn’t realize the only way they play the Steelers in the postseason is in the AFC Championship game. They would have to get through any number of teams, like the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, both of which Harrison has a history of performing well against.
4. I don’t blame Tomlin for releasing Harrison
Like I said earlier, Harrison was the 5th OLB on the team’s roster, and he doesn’t play special teams. Sure, you can talk about Dan McCullers or Matt Feiler, but Harrison simply wasn’t being used. It wasn’t because he couldn’t play, but he didn’t fit in the Steelers system anymore. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions, and the Steelers are likely just hoping this one doesn’t bite them in the rear end.
5. There is no guarantee Harrison ever faces Pittsburgh
I have had a hunch since Week 15 the Steelers and Patriots won’t play again, and not because the Steelers lose in the divisional round. The Patriots’ defense is a mess, and Harrison isn’t going to be the final missing piece of their defensive puzzle. I’ll stick by my guns and say the Patriots are one-and-done in the AFC Playoffs this year.
6. If you take the black-and-gold glasses off, you should understand why Harrison chose New England
So, according to Harrison’s agent, there were several offers from other teams interested in Harrison’s services, some of which were also in the playoffs, but Harrison chose New England. And why not? The guy wants to win another trophy, and the Steelers just cut him. Next best thing? Yeah, those guys up in the northeast.
7. Sometimes agents need to just shut up
I understand agents’ roles in this type of process, but sometimes they need to just shut up. Bill Parise, Harrison’s agent has done nothing to help smooth over a pissed off fan base by making comments like, “He wants to win a ring and move on.” I get his player was a free agent, but sometimes comments like these are better left unsaid.
8. Don’t think there wasn’t a dialogue between Harrison and the Steelers prior to his release...this didn’t blindside him
I highly doubt, but can’t say for certain, the Steelers randomly pulled Harrison into Mike Tomlin’s office and said, “We need your keys, you are cut.” There was likely a dialogue between the two parties, and Harrison very well might have voiced his concern and issue with his lack of playing time. This could have been a mutual decision on both sides of the table. Sometimes these things happen.
9. Admit it, this is about the Patriots, not Harrison
We all didn’t want James Harrison to wear that hideous blue jersey with grey pants, but this isn’t about Harrison, it is about the Patriots. The big brother in the situation which always has the upper hand.
10. The Steelers will be just fine, after all, Harrison played only 40 snaps all season
Some fans think the Steelers will be doomed after the news of Harrison leaving the team. I have a feeling the Steelers will be just fine, even if they end up playing New England in the playoffs. If I’m Todd Haley, I’m licking my chops thinking about seeing Harrison on the right side in a game, and me sending Le’Veon Bell in the slot to force Harrison into coverage. Talk about a mismatch nightmare for a defense. Yeah, the Steelers will be just fine.