James Harrison officially signed his two-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday and quickly made two things known:
He’s here to win a Super Bowl, and he doesn’t hate his former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I don’t have a chip on my shoulder against the Steelers,” Harrison said. “I don’t hate the Steelers.”
Harrison spent 10 seasons in Pittsburgh, where he won two Super Bowls while going to five Pro Bowls. He signed a six-year contract extension in 2009, but last month the Steelers asked him to take a pay cut, resulting in his release and eventual landing in Cincinnati.
“They did what they did, which made business to them, and we had a parting of the ways,” Harrison said. “I wish them the best except for when we play. And of course I’m assuming they wish me the best except when we play them.”
It won’t take long for Harrison and his former teammates to reunite as the Bengals are scheduled to play the Steelers in the home opener in Week 2 on Monday Night Football.
“We all will be excited to have James join us,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “He came in here and had a great visit and kind of bared his soul on things to us. He showed really the kind of person he was for us. That was great.”
He also showed he can still be the player he has been in the past with on-field workout that impressed the coaches.
“To be honest, most guys at that point in his career wouldn’t do that, but he did,” Bengals linebacker coach Paul Guenther said. “He went out there, stretched and did the workout and he did great. He looked great in my opinion.”
Harrison, who missed the first three games last year with a knee injury, said he wasn’t taken aback by the request to work out because he expected there to be questions about the knee and he was eager to answer them.
He said he is healthy and feels close to being the player he was when he won the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
“I’m probably closer to that person now than I have been since then,” he said. “I’ve had an opportunity to actually get back and train properly and rehab things the way they need to be done.”
Asked how many seasons he has left on a body that turns 35 in two weeks, Harrison said, “I feel like I have three, but we signed the deal that we signed and it is what it is. We’ll play it out and see where everything lays.”
Once he signed the contract, Harrison still had a little negotiating to do as he made a phone call to Bengals defensive end Jamaal Anderson to inquire about the No. 92, which Anderson wore last season.
“That’s a done thing,” Harrison said.
“There was a small negotiation,” Anderson said. “You treat it like any other business deal. You weigh the pros and cons and you make a decision. We know what it is. It’s a gentlemen’s agreement, so hopefully both parties go about their ways in getting it complete.”
There are a few other numbers of interest to some as Harrison switches from Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 defense to Mike Zimmer’s 4-3, but Guenther dismissed any concern.
“James is a linebacker,” Guenther said. “You will find a fit for the guy. Get him to do what he does best. We’ll work with him during the offseason and get him up to speed with our scheme and techniques. He’s played linebacker all his life. So 3-4, 4-3, it’s all overblown really.”
Name Experience Under Contract Thru
Vontaze Burfict 2 2014
James Harrison 10 2014
Brandon Joiner 1 2015
Emmanuel Lamur 2014
Rey Maualuga 5 2014
Aaron Maybin 5 2013
Dontay Moch 2 2014
Vincent Rey 3 2013
J.K. Schaffer 1 2013