View Full Version : James Harrison ... do not disturb

09-09-2009, 07:22 PM
Steelers' James Harrison ... do not disturb
Star linebacker fended off a lot of financially rewarding offers
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

They came at linebacker James Harrison in waves, and he flicked them aside as one might expect the NFL defensive player of the year to do. One after the other, Harrison rejected them as if they were scatbacks trying to block his path to the quarterback. Only these did not occur on a football field, they were part of his swag for what he did on football fields last season. They were offers of money in trade for his appearance or his autograph or his endorsement. It is the reward for the remarkable season Harrison had in 2008. Yet, the two-time Steelers MVP was a hard sell, turning down "about 25, 30" such offers, according to agent Bill Parise. His reasoning: "James is James," Parise said. "James is not comfortable in a lot of those settings, and there's not a need to put him in them anymore."

The lack of need to grovel for outside income came in April when he signed a six-year contract worth $51.2 million, about $20 million of that in bonus money.

"I turned down a whole bunch of stuff," Harrison said. "Go here, do this and do that. I don't want to do nothing. I'm not interested, especially now, I don't really need it.

"I'm happy with the contract I have. And the kind of money I would get from that versus what I'd have to do, I'd probably have to sit there and talk to people."

Oh, no, not talk to people! Think skipping the White House visit and a chance to meet the president was a show of disrespect? Those who know Harrison claim it's just not so. He's private and admittedly shy. This overnight sensation at age 31 often does not react well to his newfound celebrity.
PG graphic: The Sack Master
PG photos: Anatomy of history

Two years ago, he was just another backup outside linebacker with the Steelers. Today, he owns their season sack record with 16, was league defensive player of the year and author of the longest play in Super Bowl history, a breathtaking 100-yard interception return for a touchdown to end the first half and very likely stem Arizona's upset bid.

There's also an impending book. Yes, this shy, private linebacker collaborated on a biography, perhaps because he had to talk only to its author, Bill Moushey (with Bill Parise). Titled "Never Give Up," a snarling Harrison is shown on its cover. It was Moushey, a former Post-Gazette writer, who suggested Harrison's shyness.

"I think he puts a somewhat impenetrable shield up to keep people away from him, borne out of an intense shyness," Moushey said. "He won't go in front of crowds, doesn't like to do that kind of stuff, unless it's involving kids. His fear of flying combined with his shyness has caused him pretty much to turn down anything people throw his way. He's been offered all kinds of headline appearances and he just doesn't do it."

Harrison, who is so intense he nearly knocked his quarterback out for the season by pushing 345-pound tackle Max Starks into Ben Roethlisberger's leg on the last day of training camp, also has a soft side. Of the field, of course.

"Absolutely," says end Brett Keisel, who plays next to Harrison on the right side of the NFL's No. 1 defense. "Watch him around his little boy and my son. My son was out here a couple of weeks ago; James came over and kissed him on the head.

"He's a great guy off the field, but on the field he's a complete animal. That's what we want. He's a big reason why we were great last year. His return in the Super Bowl speaks for itself. He has the heart to go that far -- that's a long way to run, but that's what he's built on, all heart."

Speaking from the heart, then, here are Harrison's thoughts, recounted for us, as he intercepted Kurt Warner's pass and ran with it. He already has acknowledged he was supposed to blitz on that play but saw something and hung back.

"After I picked it off, I didn't see anybody in front of me, I thought I had a clean touchdown. I'm like, 'I'm about to go.' All of a sudden there's a sea of white jerseys and then I saw a bunch of red jerseys and I said, 'Oh my goodness.' "

He needed some help and got it with blocks by quick-reacting teammates Deshea Townsend, Ike Taylor and LaMarr Woodley, among others.

"After Deshea blocked Kurt Warner I said, 'OK, I'm good.' He blocks him, then I got a bump from behind, I guess that was Ike hitting someone, I don't know who it was. Then somebody came from the side, a lineman or something. Then there was a running back [Woodley] knocked down, then another lineman after [Woodley] knocked him down, then a receiver. Like I said, I never saw Larry Fitzgerald until he actually hit me."

That occurred as he approached the end zone and wound up rolling onto Fitzgerald for the touchdown. Had he been short, the half would have ended without a chance at kicking a field goal. As with Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception, he might have had time to run out of bounds and given his team a shot at three points rather than gamble it all on the end zone or nothing.

"I'm not even thinking about running out of bounds," Harrison said. "I figured there was not enough time left, that was my whole reason for dropping back because they had to either throw a quick in or out into the end zone because they could not afford to get caught in bounds; they had no timeouts left."

Had it not been for Fitzgerald's late scores and Santonio Holmes' winning touchdown catch, Harrison might have added Super Bowl MVP to his late-blooming resume. No matter. He's happy with what he has, but in no way content. He's as determined to show he's not a fluke as much as he was determined to make it in the first place.

"He's more motivated to prove his critics wrong, that he might be a one-year wonder," said friend and safety Tyrone Carter. "He's always been motivated, but this will give him an extra edge as well because you know he's going to have naysayers: 'He had one good year, what's he going to do once he got money?' "

Harrison, who was back working out at the Steelers' facility days after they won Super Bowl XLIII, will tell you what he's going to do, or at least plans to do.

"I believe anything can be topped. That's why they make records. How do I do that? I come in and train and get better in every area, learning defense, what my position is as far as where I'm supposed to be on certain defenses to better help myself and my teammates. It may not be me getting better numbers, it may be me being in better position to help other people."

Just as long as those people are his teammates, or the kids he serves through the Beaver County YMCA without fanfare. The rest? Please leave him alone, even if you come carrying gifts. Harrison does not want gifts and he certainly does not want to have to talk to anyone to get them.

Anatomy of history

Steelers linebacker James Harrison completes the longest play in Super Bowl history after intercepting Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner in the Steelers end zone and returning the ball 100 yards for the touchdown at the end of the first half Feb. 1 in Tampa, Fla. "I'm not even thinking about running out of bounds," Harrison said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09252/99 ... z0QeeGFxOI (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09252/996496-66.stm#ixzz0QeeGFxOI)

Discipline of Steel
09-09-2009, 07:34 PM
My modern day Steeler hero!

09-09-2009, 08:33 PM
in a day of 'me-first' athletes (CJ) and over-exposed athletes (all things manning) it's refreshing to see a hard nosed guy who shuts up and lives by DYFJ.....