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fordfixer
01-17-2009, 11:16 PM
Humbling start sparks Steelers' James Harrison
Steelers LB pays his dues, emerges as best in business

By Omar Kelly | Tribune Newspapers
January 17, 2009
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ch ... 9926.story (http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/chi-17-afcjan17,0,5129926.story)

There are times when James Harrison, the Pittsburgh Steelers' destructive outside linebacker, will get stopped stood up by an offensive linemen or flushed outside by double teams.

And there are times Harrison stops himself, like when he was arrested his senior season in high school for shooting a BB gun inside a locker room, ending his college recruitment and forcing him to walk on at Kent State. Or when the undrafted rookie would talk back to his NFL coaches, and he got cut for exhibiting the same stubborn nature that allows him to relentlessly pursue quarterbacks today.

"When he knew what he was doing he was a very powerful guy with a great first step. But like a lot of players we brought in, there was a period of transition that you have to go through, and James went through it," said former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who cut Harrison three times in 13 months.

Cowher said there were times during those early days Harrison would be so lost he'd "stop in the middle of the play."

"He's come a long way to say the least," Cowher said with a chuckle.

All the way from college walk-on to the NFL's 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, and one win over the Ravens away from leading his team to the Super Bowl.

"[Winning] the Super Bowl would mean everything," said Harrison, who led the Steelers his first year as a starter with 81/2 sacks, then set a team record this season with 16 sacks to go with seven forced fumbles and 101 tackles.

His ability to disrupt Baltimore's passing game will be critical to the Steelers advancing to the big game.

Harrison is the fifth Steeler to have won the Defensive Player of the Year honor, and three Joe Greene (1972, 1974), Mel Blount (1975) and Jack Lambert (1976) are in the Hall of Fame. Rod Woodson (1993), the fourth, should join the others at the end of the month when Hall of Fame voting is completed.

Although he's only been a two-year starter, Harrison, who replaced Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter in Pittsburgh, knows he's in good company. But this man of few words isn't ready to say he belongs among the Pittsburgh elite. Not until he leads his team to a win in the big game.

His teammates believe their 6-foot, 255-pound battering ram will do just that. Harrison's two nicknames in the Steelers locker room are Deebo, a character from the movie "Friday" who is an intimidating bare-knuckles brawler, and Silverback, an adult male gorilla that serves as the strong, dominant troop leader.

Both stem from the way Harrison, who was also cut by the Ravens early in his career, carries himself on the field.

"He's an animal, a straight beast. Unstoppable," Steelers cornerback Bryant McFadden said. "My rookie year when he wasn't playing a lot you could see what type of guy he was because he was doing things on the practice field that you wouldn't expect from someone of his stature. He waited his time and when the opportunity came he made the most of it."

AngryAsian
01-18-2009, 12:32 AM
A true "Steeler"... no BS and lip-service. Just let's his play do the talking. A credit to the uniform and the organization.

fordfixer
01-18-2009, 12:45 AM
A true "Steeler"... no BS and lip-service. Just let's his play do the talking. A credit to the uniform and the organization.
:Agree :tt1 Go Steelers!!!!

flippy
01-18-2009, 04:29 AM
cAn't stOp thIs AnImAl.......