BOSTON (CBS) — James Harrison has been in the NFL a long time, and he likely didn’t much appreciate hearing everything his former teammates had to say about him after he signed with the Patriots this week.
So to set the record straight on his own terms, Harrison released a long statement via Instagram on Friday in which he explained why he requested his release from the Steelers. Harrison insisted that the Steelers were not honest about their intentions for his playing time, and that despite accusations from the Pittsburgh locker room, he did in fact visit Ryan Shazier in the hospital.
Below is Harrison’s full statement:
If anybody thought I signed a two-year deal with a team in the NFL at age 39 to sit on the bench and collect a check and a participation trophy, they’re mistaken. I didn’t sign up to sit on the bench and be a cheerleader. I was clear about that when I signed, and I was told I would be on the field when I signed. When I was asking for reps in camp, I got none. I got lip service though: We know what you can do – you don’t need the reps. But I know what my body needs in order to be in shape to compete, and I said so, but still zero reps.
At the beginning of the season, when it was clear I didn’t have a role anymore, I asked to be released. Throughout the season, I was told week in and out that I’d be used. I wasn’t. I started getting frustrated about the whole thing. I asked to not be dressed or take unnecessary practice reps if I wasn’t going to play. That’s what happened for a [couple] weeks, then we had a game week that I got solid reps in practice and everyone assumed I would play. I got to the stadium four hours early as usual, and my locker was empty. Nobody said anything to me about being inactive, just an empty locker. I asked to be released again. I was told no.
A couple weeks later, they dress me for the game so I assume I’m going to play, and I get zero reps. Stood on the sideline the whole game. I asked to be released again, I was told no. Then a few days later, they released me. I was never told I would be brought back, it was: If I bring [you] back, be in shape. I cleared waivers, and they didn’t call. New England called.
Also, to be clear, ask Ryan if I came to see him in the hospital. I didn’t help Bud [Dupree] or TJ [Watt]? Ask TJ if I helped him.
Maybe I didn’t handle my frustration the best that I could’ve. If you haven’t learned anything about me over the last 16 years, I’m a competitor to my core. I live and breathe competition. I do what it takes to keep my body and mind ready to be on that field. I do it for me, I do it for my family, I do it for my team and I do it for the fans. Nothing else to it. At the end of the day, they made a business decision, and so did I.
For the record, Dupree himself was not entirely kind to Harrison, saying that Harrison “spit in coach [Mike] Tomlin and Mr. Rooney’s face. That’s all it was to us. Like, basically you spit on your teammates, you spit on us because the whole season you’ve been shown as someone different than what you were supposed to, so-called, be to us — other than a leader.”
The caption to Harrison’s post indicated that this would his only comment on his departure from the Steelers.
Harrison has also used his Instagram account this week to share a video of Mark Wahlberg celebrating the Patriots’ new addition, as well as a video of Snoop Dogg encouraging Harrison while watching videos of Harrison working out