Bill Belichick has to know there’s been a lot of drama surrounding the signing of former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison.
After all, Harrison was a fan favorite in Pittsburgh. At 39 years old, he’d played all of his career with the Steelers, save one year with the Cincinnati Bengals. Plus, he now joined a hated rival and the team perhaps most likely to keep the Steelers from reaching the Super Bowl. Steelers players have destroyed him in interviews, saying he ruined his legacy.
All that may be true, but Belichick doesn’t want to hear it.
“I mean, look, at any team — this is the National Football League,” Belichick said, per Mike Petraglia of CLNS Media. “Players change teams. We have [former New York Jets linebacker] David Harris. I mean, this isn’t some kind of unprecedented event. That’s just not what it is. We face somebody that’s been on our team every week. We have somebody on our team that was with another team that we play against. That’s the way it is every week. This is the National Football League. Were not talking about college now where players don’t change teams. This is professional football. It’s like that every year. It’s like that every week. It’s like that on every team. I don’t know. I don’t see it as some big historical event.”
He’s ignoring the obvious issue, which is that Harrison isn’t any other player. Getting him from a rival right before the playoffs is not the same as facing some former third-string wideout in a non-conference game. This is bigger.
He does have something of a point, though. Player movement is very common. This just isn’t as small as he’s making it out to be. It’s more like quarterback Tom Brady joining the Jets in time for a Super Bowl run after asking to be released.
In any case, Belichick was also asked what Harrison, who played only 40 snaps for the Steelers this year, looked like in practice.
“Yeah, he’s worked hard,” Belichick said. “Got a lot of information to process but he’s working at it. We’ll keep stringing them together here and see how it goes.”