Pittsburgh offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey, who said ex-Steelers linebacker James Harrison “erased his legacy” by signing with the Patriots, wasn’t the only former teammate to talk shit about his old coworker. Linebacker Bud Dupree had shots to take:
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler spoke to unnamed players who claimed that the 39-year-old Harrison had checked out by Week 4 of the season and would barely be around when he was a healthy scratch:
Players witnessed Harrison sleeping in a recliner during position meetings and snoring loudly while outside linebackers coach Joey Porter tried to teach, the source said. Sometimes, Harrison would skip meetings altogether, and when he missed practices for various injuries, player suspicions would rise when Harrison conducted his famous power-lifting sessions the same week or day, the source said.
Harrison left the building at random times, would leave stadiums before or during games on days he was inactive and told teammates he was trying to get traded, released or placed on Injured Reserve, the source said.
Meanwhile, Harrison told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac that early in the season, he asked the Steelers to cut him so he could play more snaps elsewhere, but the team promised that his role would increase as the season went on. It did not:
“I have to assume when they say you’re going to get 25 percent of the snaps and you get 25, safe to say things didn’t go as planned,” Harrison told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday.
“After the first week of the season, I said to them, it’s clear you want to play your younger guys and I understand, so why don’t you release me. You go on your way and I’ll go on mine. They said, ‘No, no, no, we got a role for you.’”
Harrison played a total of 40 defensive snaps over five games this season with the Steelers. He said the last straw for him was when he saw no playing time in what was possibly the biggest regular-season game, against the Patriots in Week 15, though it sounds like there were a few other last straws before that. When the Steelers finally did release him to make room for offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert, who also had something to say: