Q&A: James Harrison

Famed Steelers pass-rusher huffed and puffed his way through his first practice, and lived to talk about it.

James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers

(Whistling, walking to old locker)

JH: Oh, (expletive). I'm trippin'.

(Gets to new locker amid media mob)

JH: All right, what lies do you want me to tell you?

Reporter: Doesn't matter. As long as they're good ones.

JH: All right. Let's go.

Reporter: How did you feel out there?

JH: Horrible.

Reporter: Why?

JH: Ha. I ain't had no runnin' like that since January (breathing heavily, sweating profusely).

Reporter: How long until you can get into football shape?

JH: Before I said two, three weeks. Now I'm looking at three or four weeks.

Reporter: You could probably get a few snaps, couldn't you?

JH: Yeah. Yeah. Probably do that. But we'll see what they have planned for me and go from there.

Reporter: Why didn't you go back to Cincinnati?

JH: I don't know.

Reporter: Did you have any interest in going back there?

JH: Uhhhh, not really. I just didn't want to be that far from home, to be honest with you. Trying to see my kids from there to here, it was hard.

Reporter: Have you added weight?

JH: Yeah. I added about 10 pounds. See I can gain all the muscle that I wanted to when I was sitting on the couch. Now I've got to go out here and play with it, so I'm going to have to lose a couple pounds of that.

Reporter: Do you have to lose some?

JH: I 'll just work it out as I get in shape and my body will eventually get down to the weight it needs to be.

Reporter: Was your phone turned on for a caller? Or did it just sort of happen that this team gave you an opportunity?

JH: No. It really started off with Keisel and then Mike. I talked to Ike and Troy. Just kind of rolled itself out.

Reporter: Were you content two weeks ago?

JH: Oh, yeah. Very. I talked with my mom and my dad. I talked with my boys. And my second family here, Keisel, Ike, Troy and them. The consensus was to come back. It's hard to turn down family so I came back.

Reporter: What role will you have?

JH: I don't know. We'll see.

Reporter: Any aspirations? Any goals?

JH: I don't know. We'll see. No aspirations, no goal (still breathing heavily) I'm just trying to make it to tomorrow.

Reporter: Is it safe to say this is a one-season thing?

JH: Oh, yeah. It's safe (laughs). It's safe to say. Yeah.

Reporter: Did you miss it while you were away?

JH: To be honest with you, I really didn't miss it. The only thing I missed was the teammates, the camaraderie, being with the guys. The game itself, I really didn't miss. I'm not missing it right now. Maybe I'll miss it after we get a game or two in, but I really can't say I missed the actual game itself.

Reporter: Was it a difficult decision then?

JH: Yeah. Actually, to be honest with you, it was a real difficult decision. If my kids had said no and stuck with it, then it wouldn't have mattered how much I talked to Keisel, Ike and Troy, if my boys had wanted me home.

Reporter: What did your teammates say to you that made you come back?

JH: Oh, that's between me and them.

Reporter: What did you have to give up to get your number back?

JH: That was just a swap. Tell him I appreciate it.

Reporter: How did you play last year?

JH: I did all right for the role I was in. They had me for a base defense and we didn't play a lot of base. Teams came out and kept us in a lot of nickel and I never really prepared for that.

Reporter: How long has it been since you've felt this tired playing football?

JH: Probably after sitting out two years from high school to college.

Reporter: That interception return was a piece of cake compared to this?

JH: Oh, yeah, definitely, definitely.

Reporter: Anything new around here?

JH: Different faces but it's still the same feeling. Everybody's welcoming me. It's still a family. You've just got different members.

Reporter: Are you sure you can do this at a level you're OK with?

JH: Yeah. I'm fine with it. If I didn't think I could do it I wouldn't have come back.

Reporter: Your last year here, were you 100 percent healthy?

JH: I was recovering from my knee. Towards the end of the year I was closer to healthy than I had been.

Reporter: Your coach was asked about domestic violence. Your thoughts on what's changed the climate and your growth as a person.

JH: Well I can only speak on myself. From my situation, years back, it was something that happened, an unfortunate situation. Right or wrong, everybody makes mistakes. I learned from it, grew from it. I'm where I'm at now.

Reporter: What are your thoughts on what Roger Goodell's going through?

JH: I have no thoughts. I'm blank right now.

Reporter: Back to 2012, you were recovering, and last year you didn't seem to be in the right fit.

JH: Well last year they had me for base defense and a lot of teams did things to keep us out of our base. I didn't know much about the nickel. It changed from week to week.

Reporter: So you could have a rejuvenation this year, couldn't you?

JH: Yeah. Yeah. Just got to get in shape. It's been nine, 10 months since I had to run and play in any type of capacity.

Reporter: But aren't you a workout fiend?

JH: It's a lot different working out and being in football shape. You're running around with 10 pounds of pads on. You're hitting and pushing against guys 40, 60 pounds heavier than you. So on and so forth. There's a big difference between football conditioning and regular conditioning.

Reporter: Is this a way to re-write the ending of your career?

JH: It's going to re-write the ending. We'll see if the ending is a good one or not. Just being here is good. We'll see if we can make it better.


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