Who would have thought that James Harrison would have been so great? He is. And the Pittsburgh Steelers have finally rewarded him for his amazing season. They gave Harrison an amazing contract: $51.75 million over six years.
James Harrison … the undrafted player that the Steelers cut four times? No, no, no. I must be mistaken. James Harrison is that monster linebacker who caught that interception and ran it for the touchdown in the Super Bowl. You know, last year's Defensive MVP? The one who has been in two Pro Bowls? Yeah, he's been voted by his teammates as MVP for the last two years.
Harrison graduated from Kent State. The last linebacker from Kent State to go to the pros was Jack Lambert, a Hall of Famer from — yep — Pittsburgh. Could Harrison be as good at Lambert? Well, in only 74 career regular-season games with the Steelers, James has recorded 28 1/2 sacks and 309 tackles.
There's only one outside linebacker in franchise history who's gotten more. There's only one other player in franchise history — quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who got $36 million guaranteed ($102 million, eight years).
"We are excited to know that James Harrison will be a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers for years to come," said Steelers president Art Rooney, Jr. "His contributions and leadership on the field over the past several years have been vital to our recent success."
Harrison thinks he'll only get better. (Fans hope so!) He plans to use this paycheck as an incentive to do better. "I don't feel like I have totally peaked. I feel like I can get better at some things that I have seen on tape that I did last year that I feel I can do better this year." He added later, "I want to make them proud and not let [The Steelers] down. I don't want them to feel like they gave me this money and now I'm going to go out and not perform. That is what is going to drive me."
Harrison had an amazing year and the Steelers were smart to resign such a great asset to the team. With him, one can make an argument that this team is as good as the Steelers in the 1970s.
In other team news:
• The Steelers schedule has been released for next season. They open the season at home against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday, September 10 on NBC. They also get to play the Lions, who went 0-16 last year, on October 11. In all, many Steelers fans are relieved that it seems easier than last year's schedule.