Steelers release LB James Harrison in cap move

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm •  Published: March 9, 2013
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"James has played a major role in the success of this organization during his time in Pittsburgh," coach Mike Tomlin said in a statement. "I appreciate everything he has done in my six years as head coach."

In many ways Harrison's success is emblematic of "The Steeler Way." Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2002, Harrison spent two years on the practice squad before getting signed by the Baltimore Ravens, who sent the undersized Harrison — listed at 6-feet — to NFL Europe for some seasoning. The Ravens eventually cut him loose and Pittsburgh brought him back hoping he had matured.

It ended up being one of the better bargains in team history.

Harrison eventually blossomed into one of the league's most feared pass rushers. He helped the Steelers win their fifth Super Bowl in 2006 and was named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, when he collected 16 sacks.

Chasing their second championship in four years, Harrison put together one of the most spectacular plays in Super Bowl history, returning a Kurt Warner interception 100 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first half in a game the Steelers eventually won 27-23.

Yet Harrison's violent play sometimes came at a hefty price. He was fined multiple times for hits to the head.

Feeling he was being unfairly persecuted by the league, Harrison called commissioner Roger Goodell a "crook" and a "devil" during an interview with Men's Journal in early 2011. Harrison later apologized and promised to clean up his act.

It didn't exactly work. Harrison was suspended for a game in December, 2011 after his helmet smacked into Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy's facemask a moment after McCoy released the ball.

Harrison did not receive any letters from the commissioner's office in 2012 but his physical style of play took a toll on his body. He missed all of training camp with a knee injury and admitted he had endured "a dozen" concussions over the course of his career.

The Steelers hope they have Harrison's replacement in 24-year-old Jason Worilds, who finished with five sacks in limited action last season.

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Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP

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