James Harrison not the first Pittsburgh athlete to anger fans by bolting for another team
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 email@example.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.