The newest member of the New England Patriots, James Harrison, released a statement about his departure from the Pittsburgh Steelers.
James Harrison was supposed to meet with the New England Patriots media for the first time since his arrival on Friday. Instead, it looks like he took his thoughts to Instagram, releasing a statement surrounding his Steelers departure.
The post was captioned with “This will be my only comment.”
"“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 any more, I asked to be released. Throughout the season, I was told week in & 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 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.”"
Harrison then addressed how he ended up signing with his former rival on a one-year deal.
"“I was never told I would be brought back, it was: If I bring [you] back, be in shape. I cleared waivers [Monday] and they didn’t call. New England called.”"
He went on to respond to the criticism from Steelers players that he didn’t visit injured linebacker Ryan Shazier in the hospital and how he mentor younger players, like T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, in the locker room and on the field.
Dupree had been one of the Steelers with the biggest role in the James Harrison smear campaign. Dupree stated that Harrison would skip practices and meetings when he found out he was inactive, and the first to mention how he didn’t visit Shazier in the hospital.
"“It is disappointing because when I came into the NFL my two idols were [Harrison] and [Porter],” Dupree said, per Zeise. “I looked up to [Harrison] and wanted to learn from him but he didn’t want to be a mentor to us, like he didn’t want T.J. [Watt] and me to be better than him.”"
Harrison briefly responded to these comments in his statement today.
"“Also, to be clear, ask Ryan if I came to see him in the hospital. I didn’t help Bud or TJ? Ask TJ if I helped him.”"
Harrison hints that he did visit Shazier at the hospital, and video evidence has been found which shows Harrison coaching up T.J. Watt and other younger teammates.
During his time in Pittsburgh, Harrison was one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL. He earned five Pro Bowl selections, four All-Pro honors, one NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award and won two Super Bowls.
The fact that he joined the rival team after all these years definitely sparked the controversy, and Harrison knows that. He acknowledged this by admitting he did some things wrong this year in Pittsburgh.
"“Maybe I didn’t handle my frustration the best that I could’ve,” he wrote on Instagram. “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 my 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.”"
Now that Harrison addressed the situation, his attention should turn to Sunday. The Patriots welcome the Jets to a cold Foxboro with the AFC number one seed on the line. Harrison could see a decent amount of playing time, as edge player Eric Lee has been limited in the final two days of practice.