There probably aren’t too many things a Pittsburgh Steelers fans would hate to hear more than a description of how great of a guy New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is. After all, he is a known cheater.
I think most fans, of the Steelers and of 30 other teams, have come to accept the notion at the very least that Brady is a great player, one of the greatest quarterbacks and football players in general to ever play the game. It was always a respect thing, but you didn’t have to like the guy.
Former Steelers line backer James Harrison always respected Brady the player. But he’s been adamant since he played for the Patriots that Brady is a great guy, too. And that is not the guy he was expecting to find when he went to New England, as he told Deion Sanders and others in Atlanta.
“Deion, I’ve been trying to tell people this, like they think I’m lying. He is the ultimate teammate. He is the best, genuinely kind-hearted person you will ever meet, run into”, he said of Brady. “I wanted to hate this guy when I got there. I keep telling people that. I’m like, ‘Imma get here, and Imma find out that they got some BS going on here. Like we had something going on here, they just do a better job about hiding it’. You know, all that”.
Harrison spent the vast majority of his career playing for the Steelers, in the Brady era, and Brady and the Patriots were responsible for a lot of suffering in Pittsburgh. He himself has publicly accused Brady of being a cheater and I’m sure has said other nasty things about him.
“And I get there, and the first person I meet is Tom. He’s like ‘I’m glad, I’m happy to have you here’, and I’m like ‘nah, you’re just feeding me because you got to’”, he went on. “So, you know, you sit back and you watch somebody move. You know, you watch how they interact with people. And I see how he interacts with me, I see how he interacts with a guy on the practice squad, I see how he interacts with guys he’s played 18 years with, and he treats everybody the same”.
You can contrast this with how he has talked about Ben Roethlisberger, not just recently, but over the years. In fact, you can contrast this with how he has talked about pretty much any other teammate he has ever worked with. I can’t ever recall such effusive praise coming out of his mouth about another player.
“He’s very consistent. That’s why guys love him”, he said. While he refused to call him the greatest athlete of all time, he said, “I gotta give him quarterback. I’ve never seen anybody with his study habits”, explaining a number of examples to illustrate the extent to which he prepared for every game.
I tend to want to take Harrison at his word about his observations about Brady, at least as he saw them. And maybe he isn’t such a bad person after all as a teammate. But he’s not a teammate, and he’s not a Steeler for the vast majority of us, that’s enough.
“He is the ultimate teammate. He is the best genuinely kind-hearted person you’ll ever meet.” – @jharrison9292 on Tom Brady
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) February 1, 2019