Good news for NFL offensive units: James Harrison has announced his retirement. The linebacker announced on Facebook that he was retiring from the game to spend more time with his family.
I have made the difficult decision to retire as of today. My love for my family and the need to be there for them outweighs my desire to play the game. I have missed too many experiences with them because I devoted SO much time to my career. My love for the game isn't strong enough to make up for missing one more birthday or first day of school. I am retiring as a man who is truly grateful for all of his blessings. I am sincerely thankful to the people who have supported me over the years, first and foremost my family, the Rooney family and my Steeler family, also Mr. Brown, the Bengals organization and fans, and last but FAR from least, Steeler Nation. Thank you.
Harrison spent his unremarkable last season with the Bengals after he couldn't agree on a pay cut. The 36-year-old has definitely put in work during his time with the Steelers, though. By 2004, Harrison had been cut multiple times by the Steelers and Ravens and was considering becoming a janitor like his father. By 2009, he was the first undrafted player to win the AP Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Harrison's story isn't just the story of hard work, however. He scared the shit out the other side of the line because of his hard hits and domineering presence. However, his greatest moment wasn't a tackle. Just before halftime at Super Bowl XLIII, Harrison intercepted Kurt Warner's pass for a 100-yard touchdown return. Forget being a highlight reel requirement—it's one of the greatest plays in the game's history.
The linebacker revealed himself to be a bit of a rebel during his last years with the Steelers. Harrison became known for getting fined, and in a 2011 Men's Journal interview, explicitly slammed Roger Goodell. He called the commissioner a crook and proclaimed, "I hate him and will never respect him." You had the sense many sided with Harrison despite the strong words.
Before you move on to the televised and written career retrospectives, check out some of his best moments below.