Just when you thought the Steelers could make a simple transaction, all hell breaks loose. Only this team, in this crazy season, could turn releasing a player they barely use into a full-blown news story. James Harrison was released to make room for the suspended Markus Gilbert, and that should have been the end of the story. Harrison played minimal snaps this season, and was inactive for most games. On its own this is a minor story. Sure Deebo is a legend in Pittsburgh. It makes sense took some by surprise he was the choice to be let go. Looking at it closely though he had dropped to 6th on the outside linebacker depth chart, and gives nothing in terms of special teams. In other words, he had become pretty much useless on this roster.
So that’s it, an aging former star was released. Happens all the time in the NFL, not really a big deal right? Well nothing is ever that simple for the 2017 Pittsburgh Steelers. Of course the next shoe to drop is that he signs with their most heated rival the New England Patriots. And of course we have to go through the obligatory jersey burnings, traitor rants, and paranoid worries of secrets being exchanged. The way this calendar year has gone, none of this is at all shocking.
Now though, we have broken into full-fledged soap opera mode with the recent comments of his team mates. The narrative of poor James Harrison being left out in the cold is being replaced by tales of a disruptive influence finally being expelled. It seemed to have gotten so bad, it’s reported that Harrison would “Lay back in his recliner during meetings, and snore loudly while coaches tried to speak.” The visual of this actually happening is almost too far fetched to believe. He clearly did something to set his fellow palyers off though. It’s very unusual to hear even one player say anything negative about a former team-mate. In Harrison’s case several have come forward including Bud Dupree, Anthony Chickillo, Markus Gilbert, and worst of all team leader Maurkice Pouncey. Clearly James Harrison had become an extremely unpopular figure on the team.
Honestly the way this season has gone, I would expect nothing less. The drama surrounding this team seems never-ending. So far they have been able to overcome every stumbling block they have inflicted on themselves. This fiasco should be no different. In fact, it might even be the tiny bit of extra motivation needed to finally beat the Patriots. Sounds crazy, but so has everything else in 2017.