FOXBORO, Mass. — When you think of James Harrison, you think Pittsburgh Steelers. Heinz Field. Black and gold.
So it will be a bit jarring Sunday when Harrison dons a New England Patriots jersey for the first time, as it always is when franchise pillars switch teams late in their careers.
Bill Belichick, however, scoffed at that the idea that it might be strange to see the veteran outside linebacker take the field for the Patriots.
“This is the National Football League,” the Patriots coach said.
Pressed on the matter, Belichick added: “Look at any team. This is the National Football League. Players change teams. We have (former New York Jets linebacker) David Harris. If you think this is some kind of unprecedented event, that’s just not what it is. We face somebody that’s been on our team every week. We have somebody on our team that was on some other team that we play against.
“That’s the way it is every week. This is the National Football League. We’re not talking about college now where players don’t change teams. This is professional football. It’s like that every year. It’s like that every week. It’s like that on every team. So I don’t see it as some big historical event.”
The Patriots signed Harrison on Tuesday, three days after the Steelers waived him. He made his Patriots practice debut the following day and expects to play Sunday as New England closes out the regular season against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium.
“He’s worked hard,” Belichick said. “Got a lot of information to process, but he’s working at it. Keep stringing them together here and see how it goes.”