If you’re this guy, well…please don’t be this guy.
I understand that a lot of Pittsburgh Steelers fans have come to hate James Harrison, primarily for the fact that he chose to sign with the New England Patriots after his request for release was granted by the Steelers (and he then admittedly proceeded to ham it up with Tom Brady selfies), but there are certainly lines that shouldn’t be crossed.
They’re fairly obvious ones, too. Like, don’t insult people with racial epithets because they made a business decision that violates your fandom.
That is what at least one presumed Steelers fan did recently, for which he was exposed by Harrison himself on social media, and it would not be surprising if he were not the only one to do such a thing. We tend to want to believe in the best qualities of the groups in which we partake, but the truth is that there are always negative aspects, and I think that’s pretty much unavoidable when it comes to fandom. It’s an abbreviated form of ‘fanatic’ for a reason.
Yesterday, Harrison posted an image on Instagram purporting to show a private message that he had received from a user. While he insulted the 39-year-old with profanity and racial epithets, completing a trifecta with a dip into the pool of homophobia and appearance-based insults, he also said that he “should’ve stayed in Pittsburgh”. I’m not going to embed the post because of the language used, so click the link to view.
The former Steeler tagged the user in his message and wrote, “does your friends and mon know u talk like this? Be careful what you write”. After the initial post went up, he does not help but notice that the aforementioned user deleted some information, so he followed up with a second post showing the user’s profile and wrote, “so you had to delete you page!? So sad”.
It’s understandable to a large degree when a very prominent member of a team leaves in a less than pleasant way for there to be some hard feelings going in every direction imaginable. We have seen plenty of that on our own boards, with some rabidly defending the player, some the organization.
Fortunately, though, at least in my experience, we have not seen anybody using this kind of language in addressing the situation. It does happen, it’s out there, even while some prefer to deny that exists. But it certainly does not represent the prevailing majority, of which I believe our community serves as a somewhat representative demographic, at least of the more engaged population of Steeler Nation.
For the record, Harrison is and will always be among my favorite players, and favorite Steelers, that I have ever gotten the opportunity to watch. I was critical of the manner in which he conducted himself in Pittsburgh this season, but I do not begrudge his choice to sign with the Patriots, and I didn’t relish his Super Bowl loss—though I absolutely relished New England’s.