Saturday, March 09, 2013

Release of the Silverback

James Harrison, the Silverback, one of the fiercest and most fearsome linebackers in Steeler history, is no longer a Steeler. 

The team released him today.

Harrison's game is all about velocity, leverage and violence. Seething with a teeming ferocity, he was truly a player who opponents wanted to know where he was on the field at all times.

Harrison embodied the classic definition of  a linebacker: "Agile, mobile and hostile."

As a Steeler, he was ferocious, intimidating and relentless. He was ba-a-a-a-d. Still is, no doubt.

After taking over for Joey Porter as a starter in 2007, Harrison immediately proved a worthy successor in the long lineage of excellent outside linebackers in Steelers lore, including Porter, Jason Gildon, Greg Lloyd, Mike Merriweather, Jack Ham, Robin Cole and Andy Russell.

Although Harrison missed a lot of playing time the past couple of years because of injuries, the team will miss him. Harrison didn't seem to be the most vocal sort, so it's hard for us outsiders to say he was a leader other than on the field and as a player who worked exceptionally hard and was committed to his craft.

He seemed to be one of those players about whom it is said, "He led on the field."  That he did, indeed.

He will be forever remembered for the play that is arguably the greatest single effort in Super Bowl history: the 100-yard interception return as time ran out in the first half in Super Bowl XVIII vs. the Arizona Cardinals.

Remember the time he slammed a wayward Browns fan who had drunkenly run onto the field in Cleveland?

Harrison brought a level of intimidation that nobody else can match.

It will be weird seeing him in another uniform, and it won't seem right. Any number of teams will express interest, but it's entirely possible Harrison will end up in Cleveland, where former Steelers' assistant coach Ray Horton is now defensive coordinator. Ugh. If that were to happen, wouldn't it be ironic if Colt McCoy ends up on the Steelers?

James Harrison is not going to be easily replaced.

No comments: