With linebacker James Harrison retiring after 16 NFL seasons, a listener posed this question to the PFT PM podcast on Monday: Is Harrison a Hall of Famer.
On the surface, it’s an intriguing question. The 2008 NFL defensive player of the year and the winner of two Super Bowls with the Steelers, Harrison played at a very high level. The problem, however, is that Harrison didn’t play at a high level nearly long enough.
He racked up 16 sacks in 2008. For the rest of his career, Harrison had 68.5 sacks. It’s a total of 84.5 career sacks, putting him at 52nd on the all-time list, behind the likes of Osi Umenyiora, Justin Smith, Leonard Little, Trent Cole, Trevor Pryce, Robert Porcher, Mario Williams, Joey Porter, and plenty more.
Although guys like Warren Sapp and Cortez Kennedy made it to the Hall of Fame without 100 or more career sacks, they weren’t primarily pass rushers. Harrison was. So he needs to generate a high number of sacks to show the kind of sustained excellence that will get him to the Hall of Fame.
Kevin Greene had to wait for years to get in, and he had 160 sacks — nearly twice Harrison’s total. So it’s highly unlikely that Harrison ever gets in. He’ll probably never even be a finalist for consideration.