Kevin Gorman's Take 5: Thoughts on today's sports news
1. So, the Steelers released James Harrison on Saturday and the legendary linebacker signed with the New England Patriots on Tuesday, and Steelers Nation is so upset that it broke the Internet .
It's a shame that Harrison, the Steelers' all-time sacks leader, ended his time with the team in such fashion. But this isn't the first time the Steelers parted ways with Harrison or the first time he signed with an arch-nemesis.
If you remember, he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013 for one season, then announced his retirement before the Steelers brought him back in 2014. While Harrison recorded 15.5 sacks the past three seasons, he only started 12 of 48 games.
I understand the outrage that a beloved Steeler would sign with a potential playoff opponent, especially one that beat the Steelers only nine days earlier, but we're talking about a 39-year-old backup outside linebacker who is a pass-rush specialist. And his main specialty seems to be abusing Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher.
2. Last season, I believed that Harrison was becoming a bad influence in the locker room. He was backing up Jarvis Jones, who wasn't performing to his first-round expectations, and Harrison called the Steelers' defense “terrible” after the last-minute loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Boy was I wrong.
Harrison helped save the 2016 season by replacing Jones, helping the Steelers win seven consecutive regular-season games and had great games against the Miami Dolphins and Kansas Chiefs.
But Harrison became a disgruntled backup this season, one who was complaining about his lack of playing time despite skipping almost every training camp practice and missing time this season with injuries. He was their No. 5 outside linebacker, didn't play special teams and wasn't a happy camper on a team that won the AFC North Division and is one of the top two playoff seeds.
Yet the Steelers should have kept him for sentimental reasons?
3. That's not to suggest that Harrison won't be missed by his teammates or that his signing with the Patriots couldn't come back to haunt the Steelers the way LeGarrette Blount did.
But this could the way Marian Hossa spurning the Penguins' offer to sign with the Detroit Red Wings did.
I interviewed Hossa in the Red Wings' dressing room moments after their Game 7 loss to the Penguins in the 2009 Stanley Cup Final, and remember him trembling as he talked about having no regrets with his decision – even as it backfired on him.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he holds no ill will against Harrison , and perhaps other Steelers will say more of the same. I'm curious to see if any of his old teammates will say something against Harrison, but I doubt it.
This story only takes on more substance if the Steelers play the Patriots in the AFC championship game. There's no guarantee that will happen, as both might have to get past teams that already beat them this season (the Chiefs for the Patriots, the Jaguars for the Steelers). But if it happens, it will be high drama.
If Harrison plays.
4. I can understand if you're upset after seeing Harrison's selfie with Tom Brady – and his joke about finally playing with someone older than him – but if you're angry, read Bill Belichick's quotes:
How would you describe James Harrison's playing style? “He's played outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. We'll see how it goes.”
Your thoughts on his career? “Good.”
Welcome to New England, Deebo.
5. Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to read this New York Times story , which is as fabulous as the name of its subject. Here's my favorite excerpt:
“In his endless quest for self-preservation, Flournoy makes his own almond milk and presses his own juice. He concocts toothpaste out of baking soda and coconut oil. He keeps a bottle of special drops handy to measure the pH of the water that he drinks. He knows the difference between A1 milk and A2 milk, which come from different breeds of cows.
“I've done a lot of research on milk,” said Flournoy, who no longer drinks milk.”
May Fabulous Flournoy play forever.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.