- Associated Press - Friday, September 5, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The highlight reel for James Harrison’s singular NFL career is loaded with ferocious hits and quarterback sacks, but those aren’t his most definitive play.

The breathtaking, momentum-changing, 100-yard interception return for a touchdown to end the first half in the Pittsburgh Steelers victory in the 2009 Super Bowl is the image the hulking and polarizing linebacker will carry with him into retirement.

“In truth, it’s what won us the Super Bowl,” Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu said.

And it’s why more than five years removed from his remarkable sprint to glory, Harrison was back where it all began. The five-time Pro Bowler and 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year officially retired as a Steeler on Friday after signing a one-day contract.

“If you all are looking for tears, you ain’t going to get it,” Harrison said. “I’m just happy to get the opportunity to come back and finish up where it all started.”

Steelers president Art Rooney II called Harrison’s mad dash “probably had the greatest play in Super Bowl history and certainly the greatest in Pittsburgh’s record six Super Bowl triumphs.

As Polamalu and former teammates Brett Keisel, Ike Taylor and Joey Porter looked on, Harrison spoke like a man eager to get on with the next chapter of his life after more than a decade as one of the NFL’s unlikeliest success stories.

“I had too much time invested here, and it’s really family here,” Harrison said.

Harrison played one game for the Steelers in 2002 as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State before playing for the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe in 2003. He returned to the Steelers in 2004 and was a stalwart on their defense for nine straight seasons until 2012. His final NFL season was with the Cincinnati Bengals last year, but Harrison’s heart was always in Pittsburgh.

His rise from project to star coincided with the arrival of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was relieved Harrison was a teammate, not an opponent.

“He was one of the toughest, nastiest, best teammates that you could play with,” Roethlisberger said. “He gave everything he had on and off the field, and I respected the heck out of him … because he did everything at such a high level.”

The Steelers first got a look at what Harrison could do during a 2004 game at Cleveland when Porter was ejected for a pre-game fight with Browns running back William Green. Harrison eventually replaced Porter as a full-time starter after the 2006 season.

“I appreciate Joey fighting and everything to give me that start,” Harrison said. “That time in Cleveland, that’s the first time they got a glimpse of what I could do. So, I appreciate Joey Porter for that. He’s my greatest supporter.”

Notes: CB Brice McCain (groin) and WR Lance Moore (groin) did not practice Friday and have been ruled out for Sunday’s opener against Cleveland. . WR Martavis Bryant (shoulder) and C Cody Wallace (finger) were limited Friday. Bryant is doubtful, while Wallace is questionable. . TE Matt Spaeth (hamstring), ILB Sean Spence (knee) and LS Greg Warren (knee) practiced all week and are probable.


AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide