LB Harrison: I signed with Patriots to play


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots outside linebacker James Harrison released a statement on Instagram on Friday, responding to criticism from former Pittsburgh Steelers teammates.

Saying it would be his only comment, Harrison wrote:

“If anybody thought I signed a two-year deal with a team in the NFL at age 39 to sit on the bench and collect a check and a participation trophy, they’re mistaken. I didn’t sign up to sit on the bench and be a cheerleader. I was clear about that when I signed, and I was told I would be on the field when I signed.

“When I was asking for reps in camp, I got none. I got lip service though: We know what you can do — you don’t need the reps. But I know what my body needs in order to be in shape to compete, and I said so, but still zero reps.

“At the beginning of the season, when it was clear I didn’t have a role any more, I asked to be released. Throughout the season, I was told week in & out that I’d be used. I wasn’t. I started getting frustrated about the whole thing. I asked to not be dressed or take unnecessary practice reps if I wasn’t going to play. That’s what happened for a [couple] weeks, then we had a game week that I got reps in practice and everyone assumed I would play. I got to the stadium four hours early as usual, and my locker was empty. Nobody said anything to me about being inactive, just an empty locker. I asked to be released again. I was told no.

“A couple weeks later, they dress me for the game so I assume I’m going to play, and I get zero reps. Stood on the sideline the whole game. I asked to be released again, I was told no. Then a few days later, they released me.”

Harrison then detailed how he landed with the Patriots, signing a one-year, $1 million contract on Tuesday.

“I was never told I would be brought back, it was: If I bring [you] back, be in shape. I cleared waivers [Monday] and they didn’t call. New England called.”

Harrison also addressed Steelers players saying he didn’t visit injured linebacker Ryan Shazier in the hospital or serve as a veteran presence for younger players Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt. Harrison said people should ask Shazier, Dupree and Watt if that was accurate.

Harrison also acknowledged he might have made some missteps in Pittsburgh.

“Maybe I didn’t handle my frustration the best that I could’ve,” he wrote on Instagram. “If you haven’t learned anything about me over the last 16 years, I’m a competitor to my core. I live and breathe competition. I do what it takes to keep my body and my mind ready to be on that field.

“I do it for me, I do it for my family, I do it for my team and I do it for the fans. Nothing else to it. At the end of the day, they made a business decision, and so did I.”

Harrison had been expected to speak with Patriots reporters for the first time Friday.


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