The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off what many people and teams would consider a successful season. Winning the AFC North, AFC Championship and finishing less than a TD from their seventh Lombardi Trophy.
Unlike years past, this offseason has been like no offseason the NFL has ever had. There have been no training camps, no free agency, no rookie signings, pretty much nothing but the talk of bickering between the NFL and the NFLPA.
That means that, for the most part, every team is the exact same as it was on Super Bowl Sunday.
Teams are going to have very little time from the agreement of the new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) to the start of training camps. At this point, until they sign those papers, nothing else will change.
Back to the Steelers.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been known as a very close football team, a "Band of Brothers" as they have once called themselves. They take the "us against the world" attitude, and because of that, they stay close as a team. They believe in each other, when no one else believes in them.
Perfect example: the first four weeks of the 2010 NFL Season. Ben Roethlisberger had been suspended, Santonio Holmes had been traded, and most people believed that the Steelers would be lucky to win even a single game. They went 3-1, and were one play from being 4-0.
Nothing from the outside has been able to damage the "Steel" of the Steelers. Now, something from within is starting to yield its head, and may have the venom to separate this football team.
During the 2010 NFL Season, when Roger Goodell began his "safety for the players" rhetoric, Harrison seemed to be the one that Goodell was going to target. Not that Harrison's play was dirty, but that the NFL was trying to avoid injuries, and Harrison was simply too physical for the liking of the NFL.
When Harrison told Roger Goodell exactly what he thought of it, the Steelers and their fans supported Harrison. Even this offseason, in an article in Men's Journal, per the Associated Press (via Profootballtalk.com), Harrison again set his sights on Goodell.
“If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn’t do it,” Harrison said, per the Associated Press. “I hate him and will never respect him.”
Harrison also called Goodell a “crook,” a “devil,” a “puppet” and a “dictator.” Harrison also described Goodell with the use of what the AP calls an “anti-gay slur.”
Harrison likewise said that, if the Steelers had won Super Bowl XLV, he would have whispered this particular sweet nothing in Goodell’s ear: “Why don’t you quit and do something else, like start your own league in flag football?”
Was James Harrison out of line with his comments about Ben Roethlisberger?
It didn't stop there, as Harrison would then go on to insult others in the NFL.
Harrison calls former Patriots standouts Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison “clowns.”
This is not the first time that a Steelers player has called out other players on other teams. Who could forget Joey Porter and his verbal battle with Seattle Seahawks Jeremy Stevens prior to Super Bowl XL? Or his battles with the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals offensive lines? Not to mention calling out the Ravens team bus on more than one occasion.
BUT, when a Steelers player has issues with other Steelers players, like a family, it needs to be kept in house. It needs to be handled INSIDE the locker room, not in the media.
In addition to attacking Goodell, Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and Brian Cushing, Harrison took shots at the Steelers offense, in particular Rashard Mendenhall and Ben Roethlisberger.
“Hey, at least throw a pick on their side of the field instead of asking the D to bail you out again,” Harrison said. “Or hand the ball off and stop trying to act like Peyton Manning. You ain’t that and you know it, man; you just get paid like he does.”
The reality is that there is obviously an issue with Harrison and the Steelers. Even if he had these feelings, it is something that should have been brought up, face to face, and handled without the media even knowing about it. To air that type of dirty laundry in public shows that James Harrison may becoming a cancer in the Steelers locker room.
So, what should the Steelers do with James Harrison?
"I have not yet seen the article in Men’s Journal nor have I spoken to James Harrison about his comments. We will discuss the situation at the appropriate time, when permitted once the labor situation is resolved."
How should this situation be addressed? By shipping Harrison out of town.
For starters, Harrison signed his contract in April 2009, for six years, and roughly $52 million, with $20 million guaranteed. He has won the Defensive Player of the Year, and last year finished third.
The money that is left could go to re-signing the players of the future, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons.
There are numerous places the Steelers could ship Harrison, but that is for another article.
The reality is that the Steelers have treated James Harrison as a member of their family, and he has gone against the family. It may be time for the Steelers to divorce from Harrison, and let him see what it is like playing on a team that is not as close as the Steelers.