Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison delivered a fairly lengthy statement on his Instagram account Friday morning detailing how and why things played out the way they did.
As you can see below, Harrison claims he was clear about what he signed up for when he re-signed with the Steelers during the offseason. He then states that he asked for his release and after it wasn’t granted he became very frustrated, which he now admits wasn’t handled correctly by him.
“If anybody thought I signed a two-year deal with a team in the NFL at age 39 to sit on the bench and collect a check and participation trophy, they’re mistaken. I didn’t sign up to sit on the bench and be a cheerleader. I was clear about that when I signed, and I was told I would be on the field when I signed. When I was asking for reps in camp, I got none. I got lip service though: We know what you can do — you don’t need the reps. But I know what my body needs in order to be in shape to compete, and I said so, but still zero reps.
At the beginning of the season, when it was clear I didn’t have a role anymore, I asked to be released. Throughout the season, I was told week in & out that I’d be used. I wasn’t. I started getting frustrated about the whole thing. I asked to not be dressed or take unnecessary practice reps if I wasn’t going to play. That’s what happened for a couple weeks, then we had a game week that I got solid reps in practice and everyone assumed I would play. I got to the stadium four hours early as usual, and my locker was empty. Nobody said anything to me about being inactive, just an empty locker. I asked to be released again. I was told no.
A couple weeks later, they dress me for the game so I assume I’m going to play, and I get zero reps. Stood on the sideline the whole game. I asked to be released again, I was told no. Then a few days later, they released me. I was never told I would be brought back, it was: If I bring you back, be in shape. I cleared waivers, and they didn’t call. New England called. Also, to be clear, ask Ryan [Shazier] if I came to see him in the hospital. I didn’t help Bud or T.J? Ask T.J. if I helped him.
Maybe I didn’t handle my frustration the best that I could’ve. If you haven’t learned anything about me over the last 16 years, I’m a competitor to my core. I live and breathe competition. I do what it takes to keep my body and my mind ready to be on that field. I do it for me, I do it for my family, I do it for m team and I do it for the fans. Nothing else to it. At the end of the day, they made a business decision, and so did I.”