It was a given that when James Harrison signed with the Patriots after being cut from the Steelers, the fans of Pittsburgh would feel betrayed. They burned jerseys and “trader” (yes, I know) began trending on Twitter. Sports allegiances can bring out the best and the worst in all of us.
However when his former teammates got involved in China Jerseys badmouthing Harrison, Steve Smith Sr. believes a line was seriously crossed. The future Hall of Fame receiver spent his last three NFL seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, so he’s about as familiar with the Steelers as anyone who didn’t play for the team can be, and while he doesn’t necessarily agree with the way Harrison handled his departure from Pittsburgh, he has zero tolerance for haters.
Both Dupree and Pouncey were publicly critical of Harrison, with Pouncey making the legacy comments while Dupree tweeted that people who believe that Harrison is a victim “need to fall off a cliff of get the facts.” Regardless of who was to blame in the falling out he had with the Steelers, it wasn’t a good look.
Smith made sure to point out that he respects his equals, and that he feels neither of them are qualified to weigh in on someone of Harrison’s pedigree.
“Don’t talk about what the people in first class are doing when that curtain is drawn and you’re in coach. Stay in seat 25A.”
Those sentiments can easily be applied to Dupree, a third-year linebacker and first-year starter. For what it’s worth, Pouncey is a 6x Pro Bowler and 4x All-Pro.
Whether you agree with the way he’s handled himself since being cut by the Steelers, these are the objective facts about James Harrison and his NFL career.
After going undrafted in 2002, he spent a few years getting signed and cut from the Steelers and Ravens practice squads and spent some time playing for NFL Europe. He was considering leaving football altogether when the Steelers called again in 2004, needing a replacement for linebacker Clark Haggans.
Three years later, the Steelers cut Joey Porter and Harrison’s career began in earnest. He was selected to the Pro Bowl every season from 2007-2011, was twice named First-team All-Pro, twice named Second-team All-Pro, won Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 and was a major part of the Steelers team that won Super Bowl XLIII.
At the end of the day, whether you side with Dupree and Pouncey, Smith Sr., all of them or none of them, Harrison’s legacy with the Steelers will ultimately be up to the fans.