Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was shocked that the team decided to release linebacker James Harrison. He was a fixture of the team for more than a decade, and they re-signed him before the season in a depth role. While he barely played – 40 snaps on the year – the team is almost to the playoffs and there was hope that he could come out and help them on one last Super Bowl run.
“I was shocked,” Roethlisberger said, per Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “You know, I’ve played with that guy for a long time. He’s one of the best that I’ve ever played with. Great teammate, and so it was shocking. I was a little surprised.”
He also said that the lack of production on the field didn’t mean Harrison wasn’t involved.
“He was still practicing and doing things,” Roethlisberger said. “So he’s going against Al and making Al better. I know Al will forever give a lot of credit for helping him to become the tackle that he is. He talks about his moves, and I don’t want to speak for Al, but I know, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard him say that James might be the best guy he’s ever gone against, and really just kind of helped him improve and learn from things.”
Harrison signed with the New England Patriots. They just beat the Steelers – before that signing – and they are the No. 1 seed. If they lose and the Steelers win, they could take that spot back. Does that mean the Steelers will play all of their stars against the Cleveland Browns in their final game?
“You want the one-seed,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s one of those things, do you go put everybody out there, play the whole game, trying to get that one seed, knowing that the Patriots are hosting the Jets? That’s why the coaches get paid the big bucks, I guess. They get to make those decisions, not us.”