After going undrafted out of Kent State and signing as a free agent only to be cut four times before finally becoming a star for the Pittsburgh Steelers, linebacker James Harrison is now considering retirement from playing football, again.
"I'm going to sit down and have a serious conversation with my coach (Mike Tomlin) tomorrow and see if I can actually play by NFL rules and still be effective," said Harrison on Tuesday as a guest on Fox Sports Radio's "Into The Night with Tony Bruno", according to NFL.com. "If not, I may have to give up playing football."
After a meeting with Tomlin on Wednesday morning, Harrison was cleared from practice and meetings for the day.
"We had a meeting this morning, he and I did, it was a very productive one," said Tomlin, who declined to go into detail. "I thought part of being productive moving forward was excusing him for today and coming back starting new tomorrow."
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Harrison is looking at the man in the mirror and questioning his ability to play the game that he loves because of the fallout from the helmet-to-helmet hits he laid on wide receivers Joshua Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi, causing both to suffer from concussions in the Steelers' victory over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, 28-10.
Harrison was fined $75,000 for his actions in the game and now with the fines and rule changes the NFL instituted on Tuesday, just two days after the spree of helmet-to-helmet incidents on Sunday, he is seriously thinking about retiring.
Later, Harrison decided to get a commercial driver's license and become a truck driver like his father.
He had another opportunity with the Steelers for the fourth time. The misfortune of linebacker Clark Haggans, currently with the Arizona Cardinals, suffering from a weightlifting accident in 2004 during the offseason allowed Harrison the fortune to finally display his skills as a 6-0, 245 pound undersized linebacker on the defensive line.
He told the Beaver County Times that if it wasn't for the unfortunate accident with Haggans and the Steelers cut him again, he would have retired at the age of 26.
Harrison has spent most of his career being doubted over his size and weight, so it's likely he will not retire, especially after signing a six-year, $51.175 million contract with the Steelers. But his feelings are understandable.
Harrison, similar to many intimidating linebackers who were trained to hit hard and in a certain way since childhood, talks tough a lot and plays with a furious passion. To worry about his performance on the field could play a role in any defensive player's mind.
"I really truly hope it's something that can be done," said Harrison. "But the way that things were being explained to me today and the reasoning for it, I don't feel I can continue to play and be effective and, like I say, not have to worry about injuring someone else or risking injury to myself."
FanHouse TV's LeCharles Bentley wants the players to be protected and those who play outside the rules to be punished, but senses a bit of a contradiction from the league. He explains to Pat McManamon in the latest edition of NFL Two-a-Days on FanHouse TV.