Steelers Are Pissed At James Harrison For Joining The Patriots

Bryan Brandom
(Photo: Getty Images)

While Pittsburgh Steelers players didn’t react as their fans did when franchise sack leader James Harrison joined up with the New England Patriots following his release—burning his jersey and throwing it in the trash—they basically did the NFL player equivalent, trashing their former teammate through the media.

According to a swath of Steelers, Harrison checked out on the team around Week 4, when it was becoming clear he’d see the field minimally.

Among those critical players: two-time All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, who joined the team in 2010, when Harrison was already a 32-year-old veteran.

Linebacker Bud Dupree laughed out loud at the idea that Harrison had been a mentor to him.

Right tackle Marcus Gilbert also soured on Harrison as a teammate as the season progressed.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, players anonymously revealed that Harrison had undermined the coaching staff throughout the year:

Players witnessed Harrison sleeping in a recliner during position meetings and snoring loudly while outside linebackers coach Joey Porter tried to teach, the source said. Sometimes, Harrison would skip meetings altogether, and when he missed practices for various injuries, player suspicions would rise when Harrison conducted his famous power-lifting sessions the same week or day, the source said.

Harrison left the building at random times, would leave stadiums before or during games on days he was inactive and told teammates he was trying to get traded, released or placed on Injured Reserve, the source said.

Harrison’s defense? That the team misled him about his role with the team.

“After the first week of the season, I said to them, it’s clear you want to play your younger guys and I understand, so why don’t you release me,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “You go on your way and I’ll go on mine. They said, ‘No, no, no, we got a role for you.'”

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