The Pittsburgh Steelers released legendary outside linebacker James Harrison on Saturday after six awesome seasons as a starter. Harrison, 34, and the Steelers tried to come to an agreement on a pay-cut, but when the two sides were at a permanent impasse, the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year was sent packing.
I do a lot of blogging for Behind the Steel Curtain, so it stands to reason I also do a lot of reading on the site. On Friday, when Harrison's release was imminent, I remarked that I was "Kind of glad." Some fellow fans took exception to this and said I was being disrespectful to, not only Harrison, but to the many Steelers fans who count No. 92 as their favorite player.
Of course, when I said I was kind of glad, I meant that, hopefully, it would help the team's very real financial woes, and perhaps, pave the way for a future Deebo to rain down hell on future opposing quarterbacks.
Was I being disrespectful? I don't see it that way. I've been watching the Steelers since 1980, and I've seen dozens of legends come and go, so maybe I've become desensitized to the comings and goings of athletes. Besides, it's inevitable. It's like what George Carlin said about pets: "Every pet is a tiny tragedy waiting to happen."
What I mean is, sooner or later, your favorite athletes are going to have to call it a career. Other than Brett Favre, who may or may not come back in his 60's, no athlete has ever defeated time.
When it comes to the Steelers, I'm an eternal optimist. I just did a wikipedia search on 11 linebackers who played for Pittsburgh over the years, and I counted 48 trips to the Pro Bowl. Everyone knows the Steelers have a rich history with finding and developing LEGENDARY linebackers.
Why should it suddenly stop just because Harrison left the team? Some fans were saddened by the news. I'm not. I view the Pittsburgh Steelers as an industry sort of like the television industry, and I view my favorite players sort of like favorite television shows. I can count dozens of televisions shows that have brought me great joy over the years. Every show eventually "jumped the shark," and was canceled. However, the TV genre has continued to crank out memorable show after memorable show and has continued to provide me with wonderful memories.
That's how I view the Steelers and their players. James Harrison was just another "favorite" that provided me with great memories over the past half-decade, and while he might be gone, I know there will be future "favorites" to enjoy.
I'm excited about the next great superstar linebacker to come through Pittsburgh. Chances are, he's already on the roster.
No reason to shed a tear.