FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – James Harrison is happy to be with Patriots. He’s done talking about his departure from the Steelers.
The 39-year-old linebacker would not say what factored into his decision to leave and would not address the critical comments by some former teammates since his release by Pittsburgh last week.
“I like to compete,” he said Friday. “That’s my main reason to go out and play the game.”
Harrison said he didn’t receive any other offers after he was released, and he’s ready to contribute as needed with the Patriots. New England hosts the Jets on Sunday, needing a win or Steelers loss to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
“I’m going to go out there whenever they ask,” Harrison said.
Earlier this week several Steelers voiced displeasure with the circumstances surrounding his exit, with a few noting the decision to leave was hastened by him and not the team.
“He erased himself; he erased his own legacy here. Let’s be serious,” Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said Wednesday. “It’s crazy. He wanted that. It wasn’t like the team said, ‘We want to let go of James Harrison.’ James Harrison wanted that.”
In a long post on Instagram before practice Friday, Harrison wrote: “If anybody thought I signed a two-year deal with a team in the NFL at age 39 to sit on the bench and collect a check and a participation trophy, they’re mistaken. I didn’t sign up to sit on the bench and be a cheerleader.”
He was in no mood to discuss the matter further following practice Friday. Asked about the post or what his former teammates said, Harrison brushed it aside with a quick “Next question.”
After about two minutes that included a few more attempts by reporters to ask about the Steelers, Harrison ended the interview.
“No Jets questions, huh? All right, see you later,” he said.
In the Instagram post, Harrison said Pittsburgh coaches denied him reps during training camp despite him asking for them.
“I know what my body needs in order to be in shape to compete and I said so. But still zero reps,” he wrote.
Whatever the reason, Harrison’s playing time was cut dramatically this season.
The Steelers’ all-time sack leader with 80 1/2 in 14 seasons in Pittsburgh, Harrison appeared in just five games and played a total of 38 snaps this season. He had only one sack.
Though he acknowledged it’s been “a little bit” overwhelming trying to learn the Patriots’ playbook in a handful of days, he’s ready to play.
“I’m going to go out whenever Coach (Bill) Belichick puts me out there,” Harrison said.
He already has at least one fan in New England.
“I told him I liked him much better in our color jerseys,” quarterback Tom Brady said.
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