ST. PAUL, Minn. — Steelers fans might call James Harrison a traitor for finagling his way out of Pittsburgh and subsequently joining the rival New England Patriots. His former teammates certainly did.
Let them talk. He doesn’t care.
Holding court Monday amid the media madness of Super Bowl Opening Night, the 39-year-old linebacker made it abundantly clear that any criticism of him has fallen on deaf ears.
Take this one exchange between Harrison and a reporter:
Reporter: Is it strange to be wearing a Patriots uniform after all your years with the Steelers?
Harrison: “Is it strange to you having a job? OK, well it?s not strange to me. It?s not strange. It?s great to have a job. It?s business.”
Has it been tough dealing with people and making them understand?
Harrison: “I don?t have to deal with people or make them understand anything. I don?t have to answer to anyone. As long as my kids are fine, my people are fine, I?m fine.”
Can you talk about the differences between the Patriots and Steelers?
Harrison: “I don?t like to compare differences.”
How about between Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger?
Harrison: “I don?t like to compare differences. Two great quarterbacks, though. Real talk.”
What have you learned about the Patriots that makes them great?
Harrison: “I don?t like telling secrets, either.”
Is that a secret? What makes them great is a secret?
Harrison: “The inside of that, what we do, the inside workings ? I can?t tell you the inside workings of what the Steelers had going on. I?m not going to tell you the inside workings of what we have going on now.”
Harrison, smiling: “All right.”
The Steelers had no use for Harrison this season, but he’s been a defensive difference-maker since the Patriots plucked him off the scrap heap last month. The veteran ‘backer had two sacks in Week 17 in his Patriots debut, then made a number of important plays in playoff wins over the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Harrison, the NFL’s oldest defensive player, is preparing to play in his fourth career Super Bowl. The Patriots will take on the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday night in Super Bowl LII.