The Pittsburgh Steelers got a huge victory on Monday against the Houston Texans, but coach Mike Tomlin had to know a question was coming about James Harrison.
The Steelers released their long-time outside linebacker on Saturday, to make room for right tackle Marcus Gilbert who returned from a four-game suspension for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy. With the Steelers clinching a first-round bye in the playoffs there was plenty of time to talk about the rest of the season, but Harrison’s release had to be addressed.
“It’s just life in football.” Harrison said, via ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. “Sometimes you have to make tough decisions.”
There is no way that the Steelers came to that decision easily. Harrison is the franchise’s all-time leader in total sacks, and also won a Defensive Player of the Year award in 2008. He’s played 14 seasons in Pittsburgh, and is a fan favorite.
Harrison was not happy with his role this season, and he has been open about that. He was inactive for nine games this season, and has said that he would not have signed with the Steelers during the offseason if he knew that he wouldn’t play much.
At 39-years-old, the end of Harrison’s career is far closer than the beginning. However, it is unfortunate to see his tenure with the Steelers end this way, so close the playoffs.
Harrison has cleared waivers so maybe he’ll return to the place where he played all but one season of his NFL career.