By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — When longtime Pittsburgh Steeler James Harrison signed with the Patriots on Tuesday, some Steelers fans had trouble blaming Harrison for joining a rival, considering it was the Pittsburgh franchise that released Harrison over the weekend.
While most would look at a situation of a player getting released as being out of that player’s control, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said that Harrison had an active role in getting himself released by the Steelers.
“He wanted that. I mean, it wasn’t like the team was like, ‘Oh we want to let James Harrison go.’ James Harrison wanted that,” Pouncey said on Wednesday. “It’s funny to read the stories, like … this is something he wanted to do. It’s not like they got together and were like, ‘Oh we’re going to go cut James.’ No, that’s not what happened.”
Pouncey said “it’s coming from what I know” when asked where he got his information. The 28-year-old also suggested that Harrison should have been more forthright with the reason why he’s no longer a member of the Steelers.
“If you didn’t want to be here, just come out and say it,” Pouncey said. “Don’t make it look like it’s the team’s fault and the organization. Like, you think the team and the organization wants to get rid of James Harrison? Let’s be serious. Come on now. … The team didn’t do anything.”
Pouncey even questioned Harrison’s honesty … and manhood.
“Trust me, if I wanted out, I wouldn’t let the team take the blame for it,” Pouncey said. “I’d tell you, ‘I don’t want to be here, I want to be gone. I want to go somewhere else and play differently. I want to go start somewhere else.’ That’s me, as a man. That’s what I would do. I’m not going to run from it, I’m not going to say ‘the team hasn’t played me, I want to get cut.’ Like, no. That’s not what it was. I’m glad the team is being respectful about that but like, are we going to speak the truth? It is what it is.”
Pouncey added that despite Harrison’s 195 regular season and postseason games played for the Steelers — and his 91.5 sacks and pair of Super Bowl victories — the linebacker has no place in Steelers lore anymore.
It’s not certain at all that the Patriots and Steelers will meet in the AFC Championship Game. Both teams have to finish out the regular season on Sunday and then win a playoff game for that rematch to take place.
It’s not even clear if Harrison will play at all on the Patriots’ defense, or whether Belichick made a move for any number of reasons that we’ll never know.
But if the two teams meet in late January … and if Harrison is tasked with rushing the passer … there may be some violent collisions along that line, ones backed by a healthy swing of emotion.