TUESDAY, 9:11am: Harrison has officially confirmed his signing, posting a photo on Instagram of him inking the deal.
MONDAY, 6:53pm: James Harrison may be on the verge of beating Sugar Ray Leonard’s record for the shortest retirement in professional sports history. The linebacker is scheduled to meet tomorrow with Steelers coaches and if all goes well, he’ll sign with Pittsburgh, tweets Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter) hears an agreement is already in place and says that the veteran is coming back to play for the Steelers.
The reunion with Harrison is more than a feel-good story, it was something of a necessity for the Steelers. In their comfortable 37-19 victory over the Panthers, the Steelers lost two linebackers. Rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier exited early in the third quarter with a knee injury and outside linebacker Jarvis Jones was taken out of action with a wrist injury. On top of that, veteran cornerback Ike Taylor suffered a broken forearm in the third quarter.
While Harrison played the 2013 season with the Bengals, most of his NFL career was spent in Pittsburgh, where he earned spots in five consecutive Pro Bowls from 2007-11. The 36-year-old logged 146 career games, including 105 starts, racking up 647 overall tackles and 66 sacks. His best season probably came in 2008, when he recorded 101 tackles, 16 sacks, and seven forced fumbles for the Steelers, earning a first-team All-Pro nod.
Harrison’s August visit with the Cardinals didn’t lead to a deal, but one month later he’s on the verge of returning to the team where he enjoyed his best seasons. In a fun twist, he’ll be playing for a coaching staff that includes former teammate Joey Porter, who now serves as a defensive assistant.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.