Kozora: Don’t Be Angry At James Harrison

Look, I’m not trying to tell you to be happy about James Harrison becoming a Patriot. Don’t be. But like paying your taxes, rush hour traffic, or the Pirates disappointing you, it was depressingly inevitable. Once the Pittsburgh Steelers cut him, you all knew the outcome, whether you wanted to admit it or not.

At the risk of going all Good Will Hunting on you, it’s not Harrison’s fault. It simply isn’t. The Steelers chose not to play him. The Steelers chose to cut him. Which is fine, I don’t hold a grudge against them for that, but yeah, if you’re going to direct your anger at anyone, it’s the organization, not Deebo.

Deebo went through waivers, where any team could have put a claim on him. Heck, the Browns could have just for the lulz. That didn’t happen and Harrison became a free agent. Emphasis on free. With the season over for half the league, what better place to go than New England? What better organization to win a Super Bowl, the sole reason why Harrison is still in the league at 39 years old when he could easily be at home with his kids, no longer having to hit the gym at 5:30 AM like the madman he is?

Where’d you expect him to go? Buffalo?

It’s no different than Joe Haden coming from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. No sane Browns fan, though after 20 years of losing, I don’t know how many of those guys are left, would hold it against Haden for wanting to win. Harrison’s motives are identical.

Harrison wanted to finish his career as a Steeler. He is the one who angled for a two year deal and the Steelers obliged in the offseason. But that was before T.J. Watt fell into their laps, which changed the whole dynamic. Now Pittsburgh had two first round picks at OLB, a chance to finally commit to what they’ve searched for since a in-their-prime Harrison/Woodley duo – two workhorses who didn’t need to come off the field.

That meant no room for Harrison, who got stuck in a situation he didn’t originally commit to. So when the roster got tight last week, the Steelers didn’t have much of a choice. Justin Hunter had to stay with Antonio Brown injured. Matt Feiler stayed because Ramon Foster was concussed, meaning Feiler was active and needed. And Dan McCullers…well, you know I don’t exactly love the guy, but the Steelers always keep six defensive linemen on the roster. So he stays.

It’s business. It’s the harsh reality. The Steelers did it with Bruce Arians, trying to cover-up his firing with claims of early retirement. Troy Polamalu got pushed out earlier than he wanted to, bruising the relationship ever since. Harrison had his value, that value is no longer there, and he signed with a team who still sees it.

That’s being a traitor? No way.

I get the frustration. Seeing Harrison in a Patriots uniform is going to be weird just like it was when he went to Cincinnati. But Franco Harris played a year in Seattle. Mike Webster got cut and went to Kansas City. Rod Woodson went to freakin’ Baltimore. 

And like I tweeted out yesterday, the top six sack leaders in Steelers history all ended their career somewhere else.

Jason Gildon
Joey Porter
Greg Lloyd
LaMarr Woodley
Keith Willis

None of this is new, none of this should be a shock. If it is, you simply haven’t been paying attention. Going to another city is practically a rite of passage for a Steelers’ pass rusher. Because Pittsburgh is always looking for the next big thing at outside linebacker. Out with the old, in with the new, for better or worse.

Harrison’s just taking the next logical step. Make the best of a bad situation. That means signing with the Super Bowl favorites.

Steelers’ Nation, Love him for all he’s done in black and gold. Don’t hate him for a decision any other player would’ve made.

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