Throughout the 2017 season and up until the day linebacker James Harrison signed with the Patriots, no one with the Steelers said anything on or off the record about the player’s unhappiness with his lack of game time, his desire to leave the team, and/or anything he did to try to get his release. Now that Harrison has landed with one of his former team’s top rivals, the Steelers are making known the things Harrison was doing.
Via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, a team source said that Harrison would “sleep in a recliner chair during position meetings and snore loudly while [linebackers coach] Joey Porter would teach.”
That tidbit comes from an unnamed source. Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree opted to go on the record.
According to Paul Zeise of 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, linebacker Bud Dupree said during a weekly radio spot that “Harrison would leave the stadium as soon as he found out he was inactive the past four or five weeks, often didn’t practice or attend meetings and rarely would come in the locker room.” Dupree also said Harrison “wouldn’t visit Ryan Shazier in hospital, either.”
Via Sean Gentille of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dupree confirmed that Harrison wanted out.
“It feels like he went to the Patriots just to spit in Coach Tomlin and Mr. Rooney’s face,” Dupree said. “That’s all it was to us. Like basically you spit on your teammates, you spit on us because the whole season you’ve been shown as someone different than what you were supposed to, so-called, be to us — other than a leader.”
“It is disappointing because when I came into the NFL my two idols were [Harrison] and [Porter],” Dupree said, per Zeise. “I looked up to [Harrison] and wanted to learn from him but he didn’t want to be a mentor to us, like he didn’t want T.J. [Watt] and me to be better than him.”
The team thought Watt and Dupree were better than Harrison, which resulted in Harrison not playing very much. Which apparently resulted in Harrison’s campaign to get cut.
Now that this is coming out, it’ll be interesting to see whether the Patriots scrutinize Harrison a little more carefully, and whether they decide to cut the cord at the first hint of any of the behavior that he exhibited in Pittsburgh.
Then again, that’s what the Patriots typically do. The fact that the Steelers put up with Harrison’s antics for so long is yet another example of the fundamental differences between the two organizations.