On Wednesday, Maurkice Pouncey spoke to the media, and wanted everybody to know that the team didn’t decide to just cut Harrison — he claims that Harrison wanted out:
And it just got REALLY real.— Colin Dunlap (@colin_dunlap) December 27, 2017
Pouncey just hammered James Harrison.
“That’s something he wanted to do. It’s not like they got together and said, ‘We’re gonna go cut James,’” Pouncey said. “No, that’s not what happened, and he needs to come out and admit that.”
Pouncey continued to add, “If you didn’t wanna be here, just come out and say it,” he said. “Don’t make it look like it’s the team’s fault and the organization. You think the team and the organization wanted to get rid of James Harrison? Let’s get serious, come on now.
“If I wanted out, I wouldn’t let the team take the blame for it,” he said.
Bud Dupree, like Pouncey, wanted the media to know that it was Harrison’s choice:
Bud Dupree on Harrison: "I don't want the media to portray we're the reason he left...that ain't the reason. He chose to leave. He made certain decisions and his actions got him to this circumstance."— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 27, 2017
Marcus Gilbert also spoke out against Harrison:
Telling quote from @MarcusGilbert88 about James Harrison: "He was, at one point, a great teammate but when you look around, you say, 'was he really that great not to be there for his teammates?' I could never f*** over my teammates like that." @TheAthleticPIT— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) December 27, 2017
A Jeremy Fowler report on Harrison’s participation in meetings was stunning:
Among ways Harrison tried to get himself out of Pittsburgh, one team source said Harrison was known to sleep in a recliner chair during position meetings and snore loudly while Joey Porter would teach.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 28, 2017
While Bud Dupree claimed he never saw him in meetings:
Dupree “I don’t know how many secrets about the playbook Harrison could give to (the Patriots) because I never saw him in meetings.”— Paul Zeise (@PaulZeise) December 27, 2017
Mike Mitchell chimed in, but was less strong in his opinions than Pouncey and his other teammates:
Mike Mitchell: 'Harrison made a decision. He's a big boy. I probably wouldn't have done it for $59,000." Added Harrison is a friend of his— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 27, 2017
Harrison saw a lack of playing time this season, despite having a good 2016 season in which he led the team with five sacks. He made five Pro Bowls during his tenure with the Steelers, but things clearly went sour after a decreased amount of time on the field.
The Steelers drafted T.J. Watt in the first round of this past NFL draft, and it was immediate bad news for Harrison. Steelers linebacker coach Joey Porter told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in August that Harrison was the team's “safety net” and “relief pitcher.”
We’ll have to wait to hear Harrison’s side of things, according to the Patriots’ PR team:
James Harrison won't address the media until Friday, per Patriots PR.— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) December 27, 2017
Until then, we’ll probably learn a lot more about how his former teammates feel about him and his departure.