788 tackles, 82.5 sacks and 33 forced fumbles. Those are the stats that Steelers fans were able to see rack up throughout the career of James Harrison. The linebacker, made famous by his tendency to lay the lumber, has called a few different cities home during his NFL career but he has spent the majority of them in the Steel City. That all changed this week when the Steelers waiver the veteran linebacker and he made the decision to sign with their AFC rivals, the New England Patriots.
The Steelers and Patriots have more or less swapped Super Bowl appearances over the last 15 years. The two franchises rank 1 and 2 in championships and that is much to do with the QB play. Although, the unsung heroes of the Brady and Roethlisberger dynasties are the defenses.
Think back to Super Bowl XLIII in 2009. The Santonio Holmes toe-drag catch in th back of the end zone is one of the most iconic catches in NFL history but that want the game changing play of that game. Moments before halftime, Cardinals QB Kurt Warner threw a pass to the end zone that was picked off by a Steeler, James Harrison. The linebacker went racing down the sidelines and with a lot of help, took it all the way back for a touchdown, almost 100 yards. He was a game-changer.
Fast forward to 2017, Harrison has been inactive in all but 5 games leading into Week 16. The Steelers drafted his replacement, TJ Watt, in the first round of the 2017 Draft and Harrison wasn’t getting playing time. Although the team was fighting for home field advantage in the playoffs, Harrison was vocal about his lack of playing time. That led to the Steelers deciding to waive the veteran linebacker.
Many believed that Harrison may not be signed until the offseason due to his age. One team did see potential but not in the way you may think. 3 days after his release, Harrison signed with the New England Patriots. The very team the Steelers lost to on a controversial touchdown reversal two weeks prior. As the AFC playoffs begin, Harrison will become more than a player for the Pats, he will be the key to defeating the Steelers.
What are your thoughts on Harrison joining the Patriots? Let us know on Twitter!