James Harrison, one of the most fierce and feared linebackers in NFL history, has announced his retirement a month short of his 40th birthday. He retires as a two-time Super Bowl champion, a two-time first-team All-Pro, a five-time Pro Bowler and the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.
Harrison announced his retirement via Instagram:
“I’ve missed way too much for way too long…and I’m done,” he wrote beneath a collage of his children. “Many thanks to my family, coaches, the fans, and everyone who played a role in my football life.”
Harrison’s best known as a Pittsburgh Steeler, but he pinballed back and forth between Pittsburgh and several other teams throughout his career. He signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie in 2002, but had short stints with the Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe.
Harrison was pretty much unstoppable from 2007 to 2012, when he racked up Pro Bowl roster spots and largely terrified the rest of the AFC. His 100-yard interception return against Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals at the end of the first half of Super Bowl XLIII remains one of the defining plays in Super Bowl history, and helped the Steelers cement the win.
After flirting with retirement several times, Harrison finished out his career with the New England Patriots late last season, playing one regular-season game and three playoff games, including this year’s loss in the Super Bowl to Philadelphia. He sparred with his former Pittsburgh teammates over the final weeks of the 2017-18 season, but before long, everyone will likely let bygones be bygones and welcome Harrison into the club of Steeler champion alumni.
Harrison hangs up his helmet with 84.5 sacks and 573 tackles over his 14-year career, along with one of the most brutal workout routines in the NFL. He’ll be imitated, but not duplicated.
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