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mesaSteeler
02-23-2009, 06:57 PM
Steelers Harrison; blue collar ways epitomize city of Pittsburgh

http://www.examiner.com/x-2703-Pittsburgh-Sports-Examiner~y2009m2d22-Steelers-Harrison-blue-collar-ways-epitomize-city-of-Pittsburgh

February 22, 3:12 PM
by Matt Pawlikowski, Pittsburgh Sports Examiner

PITTSBURGH - Forget the line. Forget the secondary and forget the fact that the Steelers, have been quiet with the exception of securing tackle Max Starks entering the free-agency period.

When it comes to the biggest priority of the Steelers this off-season, locking up linebacker James Harrison, the NFL's Defensive Player of the year to a long term deal has become top priority.

"We'd like to have James Harrison finish his career as a Steeler for sure," Steeler Director of Football Operations Kevin Colbert said.

Harrison's agent Bill Parise is currently in talks with Steeler management at the Scouting Combine, which runs through this weekend in Indianapolis. ESPN reports the team is working with Harrison's agent and as made a new deal for the linebacker its biggest priority.AP Photo/John Bazemore

"Certainly the Steelers didn't win six Super Bowls by not knowing what they're doing," Parise said. "I'm sure they understand exactly what they have and where they're doing with James' situation."

Why this needs to get done are a number of reasons, starting with this; Harrison's play mimics what the city of Pittsburgh is about. Blue collar through and through, with a solid work ethic.

And much like the renaissance of the city after the closing of the mills, where it has become one of America's most livable towns, Harrison too emerged from the ashes and has become the shining light on a defense that was ranked No. 1 in the league last year.

"It came down to getting the opportunity. Once I got the opportunity, it came down to getting better at my craft," Harrison said. " If you get a guy who is a first or a second round pick, heís going to get a year, two or maybe three years to develop. If you get a guy whoís undrafted, if he doesnít come into camp and do something spectacular, he may have the opportunity to play on special teams or be on the practice squad. Itís a long road to go and I just thank God that I was able to make it."

The other reason is obvious. He makes everyone else around him better. In just his second year, LaMarr Woodley played at a high level because the two had a friendly competition going, and whenever Harrison stepped his game up a notch, the rest of the defensive unit seemed to thrive off that too.

"They can use it as an example to inspire them, but if they do good, so be it," Harrison said. "Iím not out here to try and inspire anybody. Iím trying to play the game to the best of my abilities."

Which last year were impeccable. He had 101 tackles in the regular season, 16 sacks, and one interception. He also had seven forced fumbles.

Considering he was un drafted, and many have questione his size, asked what has made him the player he is, Harrison was humble, saying it was part him, while stressing the Steelers system.

"Itís a combination of everything - desire, heart, perseverance," he said. "And then, you have to be put in a scheme that fits your talents."


In 2008, Harrison made a reported base salary of $1.2 million ó the third year of a four-year deal signed in April 2006, which is a cheap by NFL standards. The total amount of the contract was worth $5.5 million before incentives, including a $1.375 million signing bonus.

To put that in perspective, the average salary of the top five paid linebacker in the league in 2008 was $8.3 million.

While he has was the NFL Defensive player of the year, there are still some wondering why the Steelers would lock up Harrison to a long term deal, but not Pro Bowlers Alan Faneca or Joey Porter the past few years.

The reason is simple, both were aging and nearing the end of their careers. Harrison is 29, and just beginning the prime of his career and has played just two years in the slot.

AllD
02-23-2009, 07:31 PM
Pay the man so he can finish as a Steeler as it was meant to be. Amen.