During his recent interviews with several members of the Pittsburgh media, Pittsburgh Steelers team president Art Rooney II was asked quite a few questions about former outside linebacker James Harrison and how his 2017 season ultimately played out. On Friday, Rooney was a guest on 93.7 The Fan and he was asked about Harrison potentially retiring as a member of the Steelers should he indeed want to do so whenever his career ultimately ends.
“I think we’ll let the dust settle for a while,” Rooney replied. “You know, James had a great career here and obviously the way it ended was disappointing from a lot of different standpoints. So, look, the end of player’s careers is sometimes not very pretty. I mean, seeing Franco Harris in a Seahawks jersey, it was like a one of our worst nightmares. So, things like this happen at the end of player’s careers and like I said, we’ll probably let the dust settle for a while and we’ll see where that goes.”
Harrison, who was waived by the Steelers ahead of their Week 16 game following him being very unhappy about his lack of playing time throughout the season, quickly signed with the New England Patriots for the veteran league minimum after he cleared waivers. The longtime Steelers outside linebacker and current franchise leader in sacks ultimately went on to play in the Patriots regular season finale as well as of their playoff games and that includes Super Bowl LII.
Harrison is now scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March and turn 40 in May. While he does appear to have more snaps left in his body, you have to wonder if he’ll receive any interest from the Patriots or a few other teams during the upcoming offseason. In short, it shouldn’t come as a shock if Harrison has played his last NFL snap and if that’s the case, he might decide to announce his retirement later this year.
While Rooney hasn’t closed the door to Harrison possibly retiring as a member of the Steelers, one could easily speculate that it might take quite a bit of time for all of that “dust” from the 2017 season to settle before such a thing would happen. Both sides obviously didn’t handle the situation very well during the season and Rooney said as much this past week.
“We had discussions about James over the course of the season, and I’ll just say it was a disappointment,” said Rooney, according to steelers.com. “James’ career here, I would have hoped to have it end a different way, so it was a disappointment that it turned out that way. I’ll say that there is probably blame on both sides of the fence on that one, but it’s the way it turned out. In terms of him going to New England, when you make a decision to let a player go, you know somebody can pick them up. You can’t sit here and worry too much about where he might go from here once you’ve made the decision. You are better off moving on.”
For now, and until anything changes drastically, it sounds like both sides have indeed moved on from each other for the time being.