Pittsburgh players claim former teammate James Harrison failed to live up to his role on the team and wasn’t mistreated. The Steelers are vehemently rejecting the narrative that has emerged following Harrison’s release and his subsequent deal with the Patriots.
Steelers Speak Out About James Harrison
The way Harrison tells it, the Steelers misled him about the amount of playing time he could expect when he signed with them in the offseason. When the team failed to meet those expectations, Harrison requested a release and promptly signed with archrival New England Patriots.
However, as far as his former teammates are concerned, the gloves are off now. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey told reporters that Harrison wasn’t honest about his desire to leave the organization and threw the team under the bus instead. For his part, Pouncey that if he were the one seeking a release, he wouldn’t portray the team as the bad guy.
“Don’t make it look like it’s the team’s fault… You think the team and the organization wanted to get rid of James Harrison? Come on, now,” Pouncey said.
Harrison, a Steelers fan favorite, remains the franchise record holder in sacks at 80.5.
Ex-Teammates Call Out Harrison’s Bad Attitude and Lack of Leadership
Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree spoke out in a radio interview, saying that Harrison “spit” on his teammates and coaches by signing with the team’s longtime AFC rival Patriots. He also rejected media reports that have been blaming the Steelers organization for Harrison’s departure. At the end of the day, the 39-year-old opted to leave.
Dupree also slammed Harrison for his lack of leadership. Many shared that sentiment, claiming the veteran could have used his experience to help mentor younger players. Instead, sources claim he displayed bad behavior in team meetings and in the locker room.
Among ways Harrison tried to get himself out of Pittsburgh, one team source said Harrison was known to sleep in a recliner chair during position meetings and snore loudly while Joey Porter would teach.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 28, 2017
Another former teammate, Artie Burns, hinted that Harrison’s pouting and bad energy throughout the season affected the locker room, and forced a confrontation with Steelers leadership.
Steelers Backlash Continues Over Harrison’s Decision to Sign with AFC Rival Patriots
Regardless of circumstances, the Steelers are done with James Harrison – and they’re making that loud and clear. Pouncey didn’t mince words as he said that Harrison “erased his legacy” with the Steelers. Plenty of Pittsburgh fans have predictably branded the linebacker as a traitor for signing with the Patriots.
Pouncey also made it clear that the drama is not distracting the Steelers. He put it plainly, stating that since Harrison signed with the Patriots for $59,000, “We don’t care. Bye. Have fun.”