Saying that he’s “missed way too much for way too long” in an Instagram post featuring photos of his two young sons, linebacker James Harrison announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday morning, the second time in his career that he’s announced his intention to stop playing.
Harrison, who turns 40 next month, retired for the first time in August 2014, only to return to the Pittsburgh Steelers less than a month later after the team’s defense suffered a number of injuries. He played two more full seasons in Pittsburgh but then spent most of the 2017 season watching from the sideline, a healthy scratch in all but five games. The Steelers cut him two days before Christmas and he signed with the New England Patriots to finish the season, helping them advance to the Super Bowl.
The move to the rival Patriots drew ire from some of Harrison’s former teammates, with center Maurkice Pouncey saying “he erased his own legacy here.” Harrison responded by saying he didn’t want to merely collect a “participation trophy” and said “I didn’t sign up to sit on the bench and be a cheerleader.”
Harrison registered a team-record 80.5 sacks in 13-plus seasons with the Steelers, making five Pro Bowls, twice being named first-team all-pro and earning NFL defensive player of the year honors in 2008.
Earlier this month, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that Harrison intended to play in 2018 and hoped to sign with someone as a free agent after this month’s draft, but apparently he’s had a change of heart.
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