Cutting James Harrison this offseason was as clear an example as any of the cold business of the NFL.
And while fans might zoom in for Harrison’s first game against his old team as a member of the Bengals, his old coach has tried to take the emotion out of it.
“To be honest, when I step into the stadium they’re nameless gray faces to me once we get started. That’s just part of today’s NFL. There’s movement in this business and just about every week you’re running across a guy you’ve had a professional and personal experience with in the past,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, via Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “James is a special guy who did special things here, but from that standpoint you’ve got to move on.”
That’s not to say Tomlin doesn’t have a high degree of respect for his former outside linebacker/grouch. When a remark to Cincinnati reporters than Harrison wasn’t the most social person was met with laughter, Tomlin concurred.
“I see you guys know James,” he said. “If you do know James, you appreciate that about him. It’s less about what he says and more about what he does.
“That guy’s a hardcore professional the way he works. He provided a great example of that for young guys around here.”
One of those young guys he didn’t get a chance to mentor, Jarvis Jones, could break into the starting lineup this week. And if he does, Jones will be the latest in a long line of Steelers outside linebackers to replace longtime starters once they became old and expensive. And as Tomlin’s attitude reflects, it will likely happen to Jones someday too.