Now that he’s back from the team’s annual fan cruise, veteran Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison talked to Hannah Storm of ESPN to once again clarify his plans as it relates to him possibly playing in 2016.
“I haven’t decided to come back to play, I’ve decided to go out to Arizona on the 13th (of March) and see if I can get back to where I need to be and I’m able to be 100 percent, and give my team and the organization my full effort,” said Harrison. “And if I can’t do that when I come back at the end of April, then I’ll walk away and retire. If I can, I’ll continue, but I’ll let those six weeks decide what happens and after that, we’ll see.”
While Harrison’s appears to be set to return for another season, he let it be known that his two sons are split when it comes to their wishes for him continuing his career.
“I’ll know if I’m able to get there at the end of those six weeks,” said Harrison. “The big thing that I’m having right now is one of my boys really wants me to play and my other one doesn’t and it’s not that he doesn’t like football, it’s the fact that he knows that I’m going to be gone for a while and I don’t think he’s willing to sacrifice that much longer.
“So, if they both had said, ‘no’, this wouldn’t be a discussion, it would be done, but we’re going to work through some things and try to get them out there more with me than I have in previous years, and if everything works out for the best, then I’ll be back playing and everything will roll out from there. If it doesn’t, and I can’t get back to where I need to be, then I’ll walk away.”
Other than providing an update on how his boys feel, Harrison really didn’t tell us anything that we haven’t known for the last few weeks. He’ll go through the process of getting his body ready for another season and as long as he’s comfortable with where he’s at physically at the end of his six-week training session, he’ll more than likely play in 2016. You have to wonder, however, what will happen if he’s unable to get both of sons onboard with him returning by that time.
Harrison, who will turn 38 in May, needs 3 more sacks to pass former Steelers linebacker Jason Gildon for the all-time franchise lead in that statistical category. Last season, the former undrafted free agent out of Kent State registered 5 sacks and led all outside linebackers on the team in total defensive snaps played.
Should he indeed wind up playing in 2016, Harrison would likely be the oldest defensive player in the league.