Pittsburgh Steelers Great James Harrison Announces Retirement After 15 NFL Seasons

Despite going undrafted out of Kent State in 2002, Harrison went on to become one of the NFL's top linebackers of the past decade.

Pittsburgh Steelers Great James Harrison Announces Retirement After 15 NFL Seasons
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Despite going undrafted out of Kent State in 2002, Harrison went on to become one of the NFL's top linebackers of the past decade.

Longtime NFL linebacker James Harrison announced his retirement on Monday morning, closing the book on a pro football career that had lasted 15 seasons and included five Pro Bowl appearances and one Defensive Player of the Year award, among other achievements.

In a succinctly worded post, Harrison took to Instagram on Monday morning, telling his followers that he had “missed too much for way too long,” and thanking his loved ones, his fans, and the many people he had worked with as a football player.

“I’ve missed way too much for way too long. I’m done. Many thanks to my family, coaches, the fans, and everyone who played a role in my football life,” read James Harrison’s retirement post, which included images featuring his two sons.

As noted by UPI, Harrison was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2002 as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State University. While initially a reserve who played just one game in his rookie year and remained on the bench until the 2006 season, according to his Pro Football Reference player page, the 6-foot, 242-pound linebacker was promoted to the starting lineup in 2007 and appeared in his first of five consecutive Pro Bowls.

All in all, James Harrison spent his first 10 NFL seasons in Pittsburgh, and also won Defensive Player of the Year honors for the 2008 season and two Super Bowl rings as a Steeler. He then moved on to the Cincinnati Bengals as a free agent in 2013 but spent only one season with the team before returning to the Steelers in 2014. Harrison joined the New England Patriots toward the end of the 2017 NFL regular season, but he failed to win a third league championship, as the Philadelphia Eagles upset the Patriots earlier this year at Super Bowl LII.

At the end of the 2017 NFL season, Harrison ranked No. 7 on the NFL’s list of active sack leaders, with a total of 84.5 in 193 games. His 80.5 sacks as a Steeler places him as the franchise’s all-time leader in the category, ahead of fellow linebackers Jason Gildon and Joey Porter. He also recorded career totals of 34 forced fumbles, eight interceptions, and one defensive touchdown.

As he pointed out in his retirement post on Instagram, this marks the second time James Harrison is retiring from pro football. According to the NFL’s official website, Harrison had originally planned to retire in 2014 following his brief stint with the Bengals, but he returned to the NFL and signed a new deal with the Steelers just a few weeks later.