The Pittsburgh Steelers are holding their alumni weekend, capped off by tonight’s AFC showdown against the Los Angeles Chargers. There’s ton of famous names buzzing around Heinz Field as the organization honors the Super Bowl winning 1978 and 2008 teams: Mel Blount, Casey Hampton, and Heath Miller to name a few. Despite the rocky way he left the franchise, James Harrison has also accepted the invitation to attend. You can see him in this photo captured by the team below, shaking hands with Joe Greene.
Side note: I love that Hampton still looks like he could suit up and be an unmovable nose tackle. Maybe he can take Dan McCullers spot?
To be fair, this shouldn’t come as a shock. Harrison said during the offseason he would attend a reunion though when it comes to Deebo, you never quite know what to believe.
You guys know the story of how things fell apart. Harrison felt betrayed to about the amount of play time he received, forcing his way out of the organization and then latching onto the Patriots. After his release, ex-teammates trashed Harrison and his attitude in the locker room, falling asleep in meetings and generally being a dude who wasn’t trying to help the team win.
He officially retired this offseason after losing the Super Bowl with the Pats.
I’m glad Harrison isn’t holding a grudge. Ugly as things got at the end of his career, it’s hard to tell the story of the Steelers without #92. He’s the all-time sack leader, made one of the most iconic plays in franchise history, and arguably the most thrilling play ever in a Super Bowl. Not bad for a UDFA cut by the team twice and spent time in NFL Europe.
The bad blood has seemed to end which unfortunately can’t be said for other players, like Terry Bradshaw or Troy Polamalu. I don’t believe either are in attendance this weekend.
For the current edition of the Steelers, it might be something of an inspiration to talk to these guys. Ben Roethlisberger is the only active Steeler – or even still in the league – from that 2008 Super Bowl winning team. The ’78 Steelers made up one of the league’s greatest dynasties while the ’08 squad boasted an elite defense and a team capable of making plays in the clutch.
Hopefully Pittsburgh puts on a good show under the lights against the Chargers to honor that group. Just as they did for the 75th anniversary team in 2007, a 38-7 beatdown of the Baltimore Ravens and one of the top games I’ve ever watched live. That day, Roethlisberger tossed five touchdowns while the defense held Baltimore to just five first downs, forced four turnovers, and sacked the Ravens six times.