Har­ri­son calls it quits af­ter 15-year ca­reer

Linebacker went from un­drafted to ’08 De­fen­sive POY.

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS -

James Har­ri­son is tak­ing an­other shot at re­tire­ment, and this time it’s likely to stick for the long­time Pitts­burgh Steel­ers linebacker. The five-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro and 2008 NFL De­fen­sive Player of the Year an­nounced Mon­day he is step­ping away from the game fol­low­ing a 15-year ca­reer that saw him go from un­drafted free agent to one of the most feared play­ers in the league.

Har­ri­son, 39, played nearly his en­tire ca­reer with the Steel­ers, col­lect­ing 80.5 of his 84.5 ca­reer sacks while wear­ing black and gold, a fran­chise record. He spent the 2013 sea­son in Cincin­nati and signed with New Eng­land late last sea­son, ap­pear­ing in all three play­off games for the Pa­tri­ots, in­clud­ing their Su­per Bowl loss to Philadel­phia. This is the sec­ond time Har­ri­son has called it quits. He re­tired in Septem­ber 2014 only to be lured back to the Steel­ers.

Har­ri­son com­pen­sated for his rel­a­tive lack of height — he’s listed at 6-feet tall — with re­mark­able strength and a re­lent­less­ness that made him one of the best edge rush­ers in the league and a vi­tal part of a team that reached the Su­per Bowl three times from 2005-10, win­ning it twice. His 100-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn for a TD on the fi­nal play of the first half of the 2009 Su­per Bowl is one of the most iconic in NFL his­tory.

Browns: Wide re­ceiver Josh Gor­don will make $790,000 next sea­son af­ter sign­ing with the club as an ex­clu­sive rights free agent.

Gor­don re­turned to the Browns and played five games last sea­son fol­low­ing an NFL sus­pen­sion and a lengthy re­hab stint. Gor­don, 27, was ex­pected to re­port for the team’s off­sea­son work­out pro­gram Mon­day.

Gor­don has cost him­self mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar con­tracts be­cause of his ad­dic­tions to drugs and al­co­hol. He led the league with 1,646 yards re­ceiv­ing in 2012 and was an All-Pro in 2013, but he’s played just 10 games over the past four sea­sons. The Browns are hop­ing he can stay clean and pair with newly signed Pro Bowl wide re­ceiver Jarvis Landry. Af­ter be­ing re­in­stated last sea­son, Gor­don caught 18 passes for 335 yards and one TD.

Bron­cos: C.J. Anderson is leav­ing Den­ver with a mil­lion mem­o­ries, a Su­per Bowl ring and no hard feel­ings. “It’s busi­ness, I un­der­stand it,” Anderson said Mon­day af­ter he was re­leased by Den­ver. Pos­si­ble land­ing spots in­clude Mi­ami, where Dol­phins coach Adam Gase of­fered him a four-year, $18 mil­lion deal i n 2016 that Den­ver matched, and New Eng­land, where Pa­tri­ots coach Bill Belichick is also a big fan. Anderson has just 683 ca­reer car­ries and is com­ing off his best sea­son, in which he played all 16 games for the first time and ran for a ca­reer-best 1,007 yards.

Sea­hawks: Re-signed backup quar­ter­back Austin Davis and signed free agent linebacker Paul Daw­son, while ex­clu­sive rights free agents cen­ter Joey Hunt, de­fen­sive end Bran­den Jack­son and long snap­per Tyler Ott signed their ten­ders.

Vik­ings: Signed linebacker Eric Ken­dricks to a mul­ti­year con­tract ex­ten­sion. He led the team in tack­les in each of his first three sea­sons.

Bills: Signed free agent re­ceiver Jeremy Ker­ley to a one-year con­tract.

Bears: Signed re­ceiver Ben­nie Fowler to a one-year con­tract. Fowler caught 56 passes for 698 yards and five touch­downs in three sea­sons with Den­ver.

Red­skins: Re-signed of­fen­sive tackle Ty Nsekhe.

Dol­phins: Signed tight end Gavin Es­co­bar.

49ers: LB Reuben Fos­ter won’t par­tic­i­pate in the off­sea­son pro­gram while he tends to le­gal mat­ters re­lated to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence charges.

Hel­mets: The NFL for the first time is pro­hibit­ing cer­tain hel­mets from be­ing worn by play­ers. In no­ti­fy­ing teams Mon­day, the league sought to have play­ers stop us­ing 10 hel­met va­ri­eties. Some, par­tic­u­larly those man­u­fac­tured by Rawl­ings, no longer are made. Oth­ers were found to be in­fe­rior to many of the 34 hel­mets the NFL and play­ers’ union ex­am­ined.

Pre­vi­ously, NFL play­ers could choose any hel­met as long as it passed cer­ti­fi­ca­tion stan­dards. Six of the sub­stan­dard hel­mets are pro­hib­ited im­me­di­ately, while the other four may be worn by play­ers who used them in 2017 but not by new play­ers.

Asur­vey­of­play­er­sre­vealed at least 98 per­cent used one or more of the 34 hel­met models tested. Data also showed con­cus­sions were up in the NFL in 2017 to 291.

FRED VUICH /

James Har­ri­son, 39, played nearly his en­tire ca­reer with the Steel­ers, col­lect­ing 80.5 of his 84.5 ca­reer sacks while wear­ing black and gold, a fran­chise record.

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