James Harrison: Dud to Stud

Chris DolbowContributor IFebruary 15, 2009

"And it's picked off at the goal line! There's a flag thrown on the run back...Harrison is going to go all the way!"

These were the exact words of Al Michaels during the Super Bowl telecast, and only one thing was going through my mind. Actually, two things:

1. Wow, that guy's a man.

2. Watch it get called back.

Fortunately for me, and every other member of the Steeler Nation, only one of those rang true, and it did not get called back. James Harrison stunned the football world with one play in the Super Bowl that will go down into football lore as one the greatest ever.

"That guy is amazing!" was what I remember my dad saying to me after halftime began and nerves were slightly eased. With a "No kidding," I resumed my halftime celebration of dunking chips into salsa and biting into fresh hot wings. Then it hit me—James Harrison went from practice squad hopeful to DPOY in the same time that Ben Roethlisberger went from rookie to two-time Super Bowl champion.

But if it came down to Ben's story compared to James', I will side with Silverback on this one.

The youngest of fourteen children—yes, that's Ben's number times two—Harrison loved football and played in high school for Coventry High School in Akron, Ohio. He was one of the first black players at the school and played so well that he received offers to play at Notre Dame, University of Nebraska, and Ohio State. However, a locker room incident that was blown out of proportion hindered Harrison's college aspirations and all but forced him to play at Kent State.

When the BB gun was fired in his high school locker room, Harrison was placed under arrest and plead not guilty to a lesser charge after the incident. This man, who once received offers to some of the most prestigious football schools in the United States, was forced to settle for Kent State.

Who's laughing now?

Harrison went from nobody to somebody, and it took determination to make it. After being a practice squad toy of the Ravens, Harrison was signed to Pittsburgh's squad and was given a chance to play once Clark Haggans was injured. When Joey Porter left, James was given the opportunity to start.

The rest, as the most famous say, is history.

Two Pro Bowls, two Super Bowls, two All-Pro selections later, James Harrison is inching closer and closer to a few things: a lengthy contract extension with Blitzburgh and a spot in Canton.

That's right, folks, you heard it here: I believe James Harrison will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in his home state, but only if he produces at the level he has the past two seasons.

And I'm thinking that won't be anything close to a problem for the guy whose teammates call him Deebo.