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There’s a straight line to be drawn from the Patriots’ signing today of David Harris, a respected veteran inside linebacker who had been unceremoniously dumped two weeks ago as part of the Jets’ roster purge. That line takes you back. It runs you through tampering charges, Darrelle Revis’s Super Bowl ring, the suffocation of Rex Ryan’s antagonism, Danny Woodhead, sad Eric Mangini, Spygate, and Bill Parcells’s ham-fisted succession plan. It stretches on for some 17 years, and it begins with “I’ve decided to resign as HC of the NYJ.” The force that keeps that line moving from one point to the next is Bill Belichick’s unslakable appetite for embarrassing the Jets.

Adding Harris makes lots of sense for New England, even though he’s 33 and no longer an every-down linebacker. Harris will find a fit in Foxboro as a situational run-stopper who can pair with or even spell Dont’a Hightower. He’s also exactly the sort of low-key workhorse Belichick covets. Belichick has been in love with Harris for 10 years, and for all his legendary reticence with the media, he’s never held back when asked to explain his appreciation for what Harris does as a player:

But this goes deeper than football. Harris was beloved in New York, and his early-June release made the Jets look graceless, at a time when they’re dragging their fanbase through an excruciating (but necessary) tank job. The image of Harris in enemy red, white, and blue—with a chance to finally win a ring—is also Belichick’s way of calling attention back to the middle finger he never intends to stop flashing.