Ex-Steeler James Harrison doesn’t think he needs to be ‘forgiven’ by fans
James Harrison returned to Heinz Field on Sunday night for his first public appearance with the Pittsburgh Steelers since he was released by the team almost a year ago.
Although Harrison’s tenure with the team ended acrimoniously in 2017, he didn’t think twice about returning for the 10-year reunion of the Super Bowl XLIII championship team. The Steelers honored that team as well as the 1978 unit that won Super Bowl XIII.
“I never left,” Harrison said. “My home is in Pittsburgh. That’s something you all came up with. It wasn’t hard for me to come back. I understand the business, the Steelers understand the business, Mr. Rooney understands the business. It wasn’t hard to come back.”
Harrison, whose 100-yard interception return in the Super Bowl helped the Steelers win their sixth championship, finished last season playing for the New England Patriots, an act that is considered unforgivable by Steelers fans.
Harrison, 40, retired in April and, during the summer, caused some controversy when he said the Patriots coaches were better than the Steelers.
Harrison bristled Sunday when he was asked if fans have forgiven him for ending the career the way he did.
“Forgiving me for what?” he said. “I don’t need to be forgiven for nothing.”
Reminded about joining the Patriots just days after the Steelers cut him near Christmas, Harrison said, “If they are upset about it, that’s their problem. Part of the business that you can’t get past, that’s obviously something fans can’t get past.
“Fans are loyal to an organization and when the time comes for an organization to be loyal to a player, it’s a business and it comes time for a player as a business. At the end of the day, it’s a business.”
Harrison mingled with dozens of players from the Super Bowl XLIII team, and he said he was looking forward to meeting players from the 1978 team.
“It’s good to get back and reminisce about old times and look back what we were able to put together,” he said.
Members of both teams will be recognized at halftime of the Steelers’ game against the San Diego Chargers.
Since retiring, Harrison has done some broadcast work for Fox, founded a supplement company and explored acting.
How is the acting going?
“It’s going alright,” he said.
Will you be acting in something soon?
“Possibly,” he said. “Keep your eye open. You’ll know when the time comes.”
Joe Rutter is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at email@example.com or via Twitter @tribjoerutter.