Hats off to James

James Harrison capped off a brilliant season by being named the winner of the NFL's Defensive Most Valuable Player award. Read what his teammates remember most about Harrison's season.

PITTSBURGH – After he was named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year yesterday, James Harrison couldn't name any of the four Steelers who'd won the award before him.

Harrison joins a list that includes with Joe Greene, Mel Blount, Jack Lambert and Rod Woodson.

"Cool," Harrison said.

The man of few words was told he now belongs in such company.

"No, I do not," he said.

He was asked to elaborate.

"Because they've done it for a long time and at a high level," Harrison said. "I've done pretty well the last two years, but that's nowhere near a comparison to what they've done."

In two years as the starting right outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Harrison has racked up 24.5 sacks, been named to two Pro Bowls, and been named team MVP twice. His 16 sacks this season are a franchise record, and his seven forced fumbles led the NFL. He also had an interception and a safety, both in the 11-10 win over San Diego, a game Harrison said he doesn't even remember. In fact, Harrison's so unimpressed with himself that he thought Troy Polamalu should've been named the Defensive MVP.

"No. He's the best. The right guy won it," said Polamalu. "I don't know how many sacks he had this season, but I do know he was held an awful lot. If not for that, he would've broken the NFL record without a doubt."

What was Polamalu's favorite Harrison moment?

"That safety was pretty sweet," Polamalu said.

"That was a big play," said Chris Hoke. "I'm not just saying that because we're playing the Chargers this week, but we didn't have anything going until his safety. It really turned the momentum for us, got us headed in the right direction. I think that without that safety, it might've been a different outcome."

And the Steelers might've been scheduled to play somewhere else this weekend, if at all. But there were other big moments for Harrison this season.

"I like the interception against San Diego," said James Farrior. "He showed off his pass-catching skills and had a little run after the catch, too. He jumped over a couple people. He did that a couple years ago, and did the same thing. It was something different than the sack-fumbles he gets all the time."

"I've got to go with the two sack-fumbles against New England," said Deshea Townsend. "Those were the big plays in a game we needed to win."

"What stands out to me is how hard he works, on and off the field," said Hines Ward. "He comes into work early and is the last one to leave, and then he had a phenomenal year. Guys look at that and feed off that. Hopefully he continues to be a force throughout the playoffs, but it couldn't have happened to a better guy. He worked his tail off to get where he's at. You appreciate it more considering where he came from to get to here. Hats off to James."

Harrison, of course, came from the scrapheap. Cut twice by the Steelers and once by the Baltimore Ravens, Harrison would not be denied.

"If you ever need to hear a story about getting back up and working, you should hear about James Harrison," said Townsend. "He got cut a few times, but he had faith in his ability and he kept working hard. He worked so hard he won the MVP."

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