Najee Harris Credits Others For His Captaincy: ‘They Taught Me About Becoming A Man’

The day that the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted RB Najee Harris in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, he was put on the trajectory of becoming one of the team leaders.

Harris was praised by many at the University of Alabama for his relentless work ethic to become the best player he could be on the football field, and the obsession has since followed him to Pittsburgh. RB Coach Eddie Faulkner has told him to go home multiple times when the second year back has asked to watch more tape or get more reps in for fear of Harris burning himself out. Both OC Matt Canada and HC Mike Tomlin have praised Najee for his preparation and the meticulous work he does to make sure his body is ready to withstand a heavy workload as one of the league’s workhorse backs.

However, Harris has been entrusted with the responsibility of leading now with his words as much as by example on the football field after he was elected a team captain for the 2022 season along with Mitch Trubisky, Cam Heyward, T.J. Watt, and Miles Killebrew.

When asked about being named a team captain in just his second NFL season, Harris explained that it’s great to be recognized for that accolade, but instead wanted to give the credit to those who have helped his transition from college to the pros over the course of his rookie season.

“It’s obviously an honor being a captain in just my second year too,” Harris said to the media Friday on video from Chris Adamski’s Twitter page. “I’ve only been here for a year, obviously I was a rookie last year, but these guys here, coaches, staff that we got here. They taught me more about becoming a man and how to carry myself in the little time that I’ve been here.”

Najee Harris could have easily talked about the impact that he wants to have now being a team captain and the focal point of the offense in Pittsburgh, but he decided to answer the question to divert the attention off himself and to those around him in the organization that have helped him get to the position that he is at today.

Mike Tomlin mentioned earlier in the offseason on The Pivot that his side project was having DL Cam Heyward mentor Najee Harris to bridge the transition of leadership from the elder statesman of the team in Heyward to a young, charismatic player like Harris, who Tomlin called “a born leader with good football morals”.

Leadership has many faces. For some players like Tom Brady, it is extremely vocal where you are always at the center of attention and call all the shots. For players like Nick Chubb, who is known for being a quiet, reserved individual, they let their play on the football field do the talking as they lead by example.

For Harris who is known for volunteering time at homeless shelters and his efforts as a humanitarian, he has adopted that servant leadership mentality where he diverts the praise from himself to his teammates, coaches, and support staff rather than himself. He is willing to do whatever it takes to win the game, whether it be carrying the ball 500 times in a season like he mentioned before, catching 14 passes in one game, or pass protecting to help keep his QB clean. Leading with words will come in time to Harris, who is still adjusting to being the face of the Steelers’ offense now that Ben Roethlisberger has retired. However, this selfless, volunteer not hostage mentality he carries on a daily basis speaks volumes to the football character and morals he has, making him a perfect choice as an offensive captain for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022.

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