ShareThis Page
Steelers

James Harrison not the first Pittsburgh athlete to anger fans by bolting for another team

Jerry DiPaola
| Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017, 7:15 p.m.
Barry Bonds left the Pirates after the 1992 season to sign with the San Francisco Giants.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Barry Bonds left the Pirates after the 1992 season to sign with the San Francisco Giants.
Jaromir Jagr's NHL career likely ended when the Flames terminated his contract.
Jaromir Jagr's NHL career likely ended when the Flames terminated his contract.
Franco Harris (32) held out of training camp in 1984 and subsequently was released by the Steelers. He played briefly for the Seattle Seahawks before being released.
Franco Harris (32) held out of training camp in 1984 and subsequently was released by the Steelers. He played briefly for the Seattle Seahawks before being released.

James Harrison shocked Steelers fans when the free agent chose to sign with the New England Patriots on Tuesday.

The Steelers cut Harrison on Saturday, and he took a trip to Foxborough, Mass., on Tuesday after clearing league waivers. He signed later that afternoon.

He is not the first athlete to leave via free agency or request a trade from a Pittsburgh team.

Here is a list of some of the notable players who have left the city — sometimes upsetting the fan base — to find possible success and riches in other cities.

• Pirates left fielder Barry Bonds: Left the Pirates, one of the best teams in baseball at the time, after winning two MVP awards. He signed as a free agent with San Francisco Giants before the start of the 1993 season for a record $43.75 million over six years. He went on to become baseball's career home run king with 762.

• Pirates slugger Bobby Bonilla: Signed as a free agent with the New York Mets in 1991. Bonilla played three positions and hit 114 home runs for the Pirates in six seasons. He retired in 2001, but he parlayed his Mets contract into an annual pay day in which he will be paid $1.19 million every July 1 through 2035.

• Penguins forward Jaromir Jagr: Superstar Czech forward Jaromir Jagr, who spent 11 seasons with the Penguins and won two Stanley Cups and five scoring titles, requested a trade during the 2000-01 season and got it that summer. He and defenseman Frantisek Kucera went to the Washington Capitals for three prospects. Ten years later, the Penguins openly tried to bring him back, but he spurned their one-year, $2 million offer to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers for one-year, $3.3 million. He is still playing for the Calgary Flames — his ninth NHL team — at the age of 45.

• Penguins right winger Marian Hossa: He signed as free agent with the Detroit Red Wings in July 2008, thinking he had a better chance to win a Stanley Cup. As it turned out, Hossa and the Red Wings lost the Stanley Cup Final in Game 7 that year to the Penguins.

• Steelers running back Franco Harris: Harris, 34, stayed away from Steelers training camp in 1984 in a contract dispute, causing coach Chuck Noll to famously refer to him as "Franco Who." Fed up with the stalemate, the Steelers released Harris, who was only 363 yards from Jim Brown's NFL career rushing record. Two months later, he was cut by the Seahawks.

• Steelers quarterback Cliff Stoudt: When he replaced an injured Terry Bradshaw in 1983, Cliff Stoudt was the target of Steelers fans' increasing wrath with every interception he threw. Then, when he signed with the Birmingham Stallions of the upstart USFL after the season, fans sold out Three Rivers Stadium when Stoudt came to town to play the Pittsburgh Maulers in March. It was the first sellout for the new league. People wore "Boo Stoudt" buttons and aimed iceballs, apples, oranges, full beer cans and frozen Oreos at him, according to Sports Illustrated.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me