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The divorce between the Steelers and James Harrison has been ugly, tarnishing a legacy

Wednesday was a sort of cleansing of the soul in Pittsburgh as players gave their account of why James Harrison was released. And the story took a dark turn given the reports that came out from his former teammates and Harrison himself.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Wake me when this ends.

You know, this story that just gets uglier and nastier by the day between James Harrison and his ex-employer, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Like many of you, as the day unfolded and as players inside the Steelers locker room became accessible, their words about their former teammate began to come out. And come out in ways many people are having a hard time grasping.

News that Harrison wanted out since Week 1, and tried to get released repeatedly this season. Even though this was kept quiet as the season unfolded, it’s news that was believable. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and not what is quite bothering about the entire situation. No, the news that I’m referring to is the stuff of a malcontent. A selfish, self-centered person that didn’t quite fit the Harrison we thought we knew, or thought we knew.

This is Le’Garrette Blount level behavior.

Yeah, that bad.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey was the first to send shots across the bow telling the gathered media that Harrison forced his way out of Pittsburgh, and it took nearly the entire season for him to finally get what he wanted.

According to Pouncey, it was Harrison who approached the Steelers on several occasions during the year asking for his release. The club wanted to keep the all-time sack leader as an insurance policy for a deep playoff run. But it was Harrison who had other plans.

"It's not like (the front office) got together and said 'We're going to go cut James,'" Pouncey said to reporters on Wednesday. "No, that's not what happened and he needs to come out and admit that. If you didn't want to be here, just come out and say it, don't make it look like it's the team's fault. You think the organization wants to get rid of James Harrison? Let's be serious. Come on, now."

Pouncey completed his rant on Harrison saying he ruined his legacy in Pittsburgh by signing with the Patriots.


And as the day continued to unfold, the hits just kept coming.

Others, like Le’Veon Bell, avoided speaking about the departed Harrison. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took the high road when asked about Harrison, but perhaps some of that had to do with possibly facing his former teammate down the road.

But there were plenty of others who didn’t shy from speaking on the subject, including Bud Dupree, who said on his weekly radio show that airs on 93.7 The Fan that Harrison’s behavior was not what a role model should do with young linebackers who look up to him.

“I didn’t see him in meetings, so I don’t know if he knows the plays or not," Dupree said of his former teammate. “If he did (take his playbook to New England), that’d be real fugazi, lame, L-12, pull-up-on-'em type. You can’t just take the whole playbook. Now you’re going too far. But he may have did that. You never know. He may be at that point where he's so mad, he probably just said, 'Alright, I don't really know the playbook this year, but I'm gonna take the whole playbook to Bill (Belichick) and let him do what he does.'

Dupree also said that Harrison going to New England was like ‘spitting in the face of Art Rooney and Mike Tomlin’ to cap quite an interview. Not to mention not wanting to mentor young linebackers like himself and T.J. Watt among others.

Sure that’s bad. But it’s not even the worst news to come out of Wednesday’s carnage.

Dupree said that Harrison routinely, over the past 4-5 games, would leave the stadium once he knew he was deactivated, choosing not to watch the game in person as per what is normally done by players.

Like I said, this is LeGarrette Blount level stuff.

To be fair, Harrison did speak to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Wednesday, and mostly for damage control, telling Dulac he asked for his release on three separate occasions including at the start of the season and 11 days ago after the loss to the Patriots.

Harrison told Dulac “I have to assume when they say you’re going to get 25 percent of the snaps and you get 25, safe to say things didn’t go as planned. ‘After the first week of the season, I said to them, it’s clear you want to play your younger guys and I understand, so why don’t you release me. You go on your way and I’ll go on mine. They said, ‘No, no, no, we got a role for you.’ ”

But this isn’t even the worst of it all.

Apparently Harrison refused to go visit teammate Ryan Shazier in the hospital after his serious injury suffered in Cincinnati a few weeks back. That also according to Dupree from his radio show.

That’s Darth Vader level mean.

Reports from Dulac have since denounced this report, stating Harrison did visit Shazier in the hospital.

Perhaps now this entire circus act will depart our minds as both teams head into their final regular season game, and a bye-week to start the AFC Playoffs. But don’t expect this traveling show to completely leave our mind. Sunday, January 21st isn’t that far away, and as things begin to fall into place, a meeting between these two teams is still very much possible.

John Phillips has been a member of the BTSC community since 2014, having also covered the Steelers and other Pittsburgh sports teams since 1992 for various radio, TV and print outlets in the past. You can follow JP on Facebook, but only if you can find him.