There are no hard feelings between Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison after the latter switched sides in the Pittsburgh Steelers-New England Patriots rivalry.
Harrison, who’s played 14 of his 15 NFL seasons with the Steelers, signed with the Patriots on Tuesday and could be tasked with pressuring Roethlisberger if New England and Pittsburgh — the top two teams in the AFC entering Week 17 — meet again in the playoffs.
“James has to do what James has to do,” Roethlisberger told reporters Wednesday, via ESPN.com. “It’s not like he called and asked me if he should or not. James was out there — he’s a free agent, he has to do what’s best for him and his family. I wish him the best. I’ve had a lot of good years with him.”
The Steelers quarterback added: “He truly is one of the best to play this game at the outside linebacker position. Just really struck fear in quarterbacks’ eyes. You could see it.”
Roethlisberger added that he’s not worried about Harrison, whom Pittsburgh released over the weekend, potentially sharing Steelers secrets with his new teammates.
“That’s on James,” he told reporters. “If they want to ask him about every single piece of information he has, that’s what this league — other people do that, too. I’m not worried about it. We don’t play them this week, we don’t play them next week. So we’ll see.”
The Patriots have beaten the Steelers three times over the past two seasons, including a dramatic 27-24 victory at Heinz Field two weeks ago.
Harrison, who at age 39 is the NFL’s oldest active defensive player, won two Super Bowls with Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh. He made his Patriots practice debut Wednesday and could be active for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the New York Jets.
Thumbnail photo via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images