PITTSBURGH -- James Harrison, one of the nastiest hitters ever to wear a black and gold uniform, did not take any parting shots at the Steelers when they released him last March.
The two sides may have split amicably but the Steelers nevertheless broke up with Harrison. He was the player who, other than Ben Roethlisberger, was the most responsible for the Steelers winning the Super Bowl in 2008.
Yet when Harrison had another chance to take a dig or two at his former team the Bengals outside linebacker did not come close to doing so. Here is how Harrison characterized the Steelers-Bengals Monday night meeting during a conference call. “It’s another game on the schedule."
If there are no hard feelings between Harrison and the Steelers – and the former may just not want to give reporters something to write about – that is because each seems to have ended up OK.
Harrison landed a two-year deal with a team that appears to be on the rise, and he is part of a defense that should be one of the better ones in the AFC.
Is he an ideal fit in the Bengals’ 4-3 defense after coming of age in the Steelers’ 3-4 alignment? No. But Harrison should still be a force in Cincinnati, especially as he becomes more comfortable in Mike Zimmer’s defense.
The Steelers, meanwhile, look like they have already found their long-term replacement to Harrison.
Rookie Jarvis Jones has made such an impression on the Steelers coaches that he is expected to start at right outside linebacker at Cincinnati, supplanting fourth-year veteran Jason Worilds after just one game.
It is too early to call their split a win-win for Harrison and the Steelers, but it is clear that each has moved on.
“I’m just excited that a friend of mine and a good teammate of mine got another opportunity to play the game he loves,” Steelers safety Ryan Clark said of Harrison. “I want him to be healthy, I want him to get an opportunity to play. I just hope he doesn’t play really well (against the Steelers).”
That has to pass for trash talk since Harrison doesn’t look like he will do any of it -- on or off the field.