James Harrison, the 36-year old outside linebacker was facing a decision that many felt the National Football League and it’s teams were setting up. After garnering two Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers and a 2013 season with the Cincinnati Bengals, teams weren’t interested in signing the former Kent State star.
Despite being named the league’s defensive MVP in 2008 with the Steelers, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and two-time first-team all-pro, Harrison’s knees had hampered his ability to get the bull rush he’d made so famous. On Saturday, Harrison finalized his decision with a post to his Facebook page:
“I have made the difficult decision to retire as of today. My love for my family and the need to be there for them outweighs my desire to play the game. I have missed too many experiences with them because I devoted SO much time to my career,
My love for the game isn’t strong enough to make up for missing one more birthday or first day of school. I am retiring as a man who is truly grateful for all of his blessings. I am sincerely thankful to the people who have supported me over the years, first and foremost my family, the Rooney family and my Steeler family, also Mr. Brown, the Bengals organization and fans, and last but FAR from least, Steeler Nation. Thank you.”
Harrison played 10 of 11 seasons in the NFL with the Steelers. A 100-yard touchdown interception return, grabbed from Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner just before halftime during Super Bowl XLIII, helped seal the win and became one of the top plays in the history of American football.
For his career with the Steelers and Bengals, Harrison finished with a career sack total of 66. His best season was 2008 when he recorded 16 total sacks.
Harrison has not made it public whether he will choose to officially retire as a Steelers or a Bengals player. Steelers fans have been sending him messages to his Facebook page begging Harrison to choose Pittsburgh. Many fans wanted Pittsburgh to pick Harrison, or ‘Silverback’ as many called him, up for the 2014 season. It is certain that Harrison’s presence will be missed by football fans.