Trash and Treasure—will the Steelers' release of James Harrison bite them in the end? (Dec. 28, 2017)

Good day, afternoon or evening, folks. James Henry Harrison Jr., an extraordinary football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers as well as a name that exudes toughness and strength for the National Football League brand, has done what most Pittsburgh Steelers loyalists view as unthinkable. Harrison’s badly wounded ship was in need of repairs and rejuvenation, and it sailed into the Boston harbor Tuesday, Dec. 26, with a welcoming committee from the New England Patriots, grinning like a kennel full of Cheshire Cats. Advantage Belichick.
The very team that may have feared him most has signed him to bear arms against the former army for which he fought so hard. The so-called competitive “corpse” of James Harrison was left at the scene of a battle to be devoured by the carrion crows in the dark of night, but when the bright morning sun again shined on the battlefield the “corpse” had climbed back upon on his horse, again primed for battle. No, the “British are not coming,” but rest assured that James Harrison will be.
How he was given the freedom to “defect” to the Patriots or any other AFC contender was, is and will always be beyond my comprehension. Sooner or later, Harrison was going to be too slow for a game that has always, for the sake of competition, geared toward younger hearts and legs. But this was not the time of the season to lose the heart and pulse of your defense.
However, usually age coupled with experience certifies wisdom.  When the Steelers signed Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden right before the regular season, I was of the opinion that Cleveland underestimated the value of Mr. Haden. I also said that the Browns would realize sooner than later, the error of their ways. Whether the Steelers will be in the same boat regarding the untimely and ghastly release of one of their most celebrated defensive players in their storied history remains to be seen. If Pittsburgh is denied a Lombardi Trophy because of the impact that James Harrison has for the Patriots, it doesn’t matter if the Steelers’ 2017 won-loss record ends up being 13-3 and the lowly Cleveland Browns wind up 1-15 (if they defeat Pittsburgh), or 0-16, it won’t matter…not if the decision to unceremoniously release James Henry Harrison Jr. causes the Steelers to be denied an NFL championship.
The Steelers now may have to make offensive and defensive changes and adjustments to their postseason game plans based on the insight that Harrison has regarding their playbook. The Steelers may get a tad bit of help regarding the Patriots playbook based upon Pittsburgh recently signing ex-Patriot running back Stevan Ridley, but as far as I am concerned, advantage Patriots again.
It was not a brain surgeon-type of decision to allow Harrison out of his contract until the 2017 season had come to a conclusion.  However, we must now lean back on the old saying: “One man’s garbage is another man’s gold.”
On the day after the AFC championship game, will it be the Steelers or the Patriots waiting for the pawn shop to open?


Aubrey Bruce can be reached at

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