How James Harrison became an intimidating on-field presence

Some NFL players have the ability to scare even their teammates. Every player in the league plays with a high degree of intensity, but there are a few that go above and beyond.

Former player Shawn Merriman was asked by NFL Network to name his five most intimidating players in the game, and sure, James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers is No. 1.

Harrison was a five-time Pro Bowler who won two Super Bowls with the Steelers: XL and XLIII. He was the lone undrafted player to win the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2008. During games, Harrison was noted for his hard-hitting approach.

Harrison also spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals, as well as NFL Europe’s Rhein Fire. He announced his retirement from the NFL after the 2013 season, but he came out of retirement to rejoin the Steelers and played the part of his last NFL season with the New England Patriots.

James-Harrison_1272215.jpg (800×600)
James Harrison. Source:


James Harrison began his collegiate career with Kent State University and went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, Rhein Fire, Cincinnati Bengals, and New England Patriots, among others.

Currently, James works as a Fox Sports 1 analyst. He has also been selected to the Pro Bowl five times and has won two Super Bowls with the Steelers (XL and XLIII).

James attended Kent State University after graduating from high school. He then went on to play football with the Kent State Golden Flashes.

In 1999, the American-born starter started the final three games of the season, leading his club with 106 total tackles and 13 tackles for loss.

Harrison was a standout performer during his collegiate career. James has 12 tackles and five sacks against Miami University. In addition, he has 98 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, and 15 sacks.

He played for multiple NFL clubs after graduating from Kent State. In 2010, he returned to Kent State and was inducted into the Varsity “K” Hall of Fame.

No teams initially signed because James was unable to play football. He was only six feet tall and weighed far too little. Some teams, though, continue to offer him invitations to training camps. He was later signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers and spent two years on their practice squad.

James Harrison life on the field

Harrison was signed by the Baltimore Ravens and sent to the Rhein Fire, a European-based football team, later in 2003.

James was drafted four times by the Steelers in 2004. From 2004 to 2012, Harrison remained with the Steelers. He spent the most of the 2004 season as a linebacker. With a 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns, James made his NFL debut.

The Ohio native took on the Baltimore Ravens on November 5, 2007. He had 9 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 9 fumbles in an excellent performance. Harrison also had outstanding numbers against the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens in 2008.

He was also named the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2008). Harrison was the first player to win the award after going undrafted.

Harrison signed a six-year, $51.75 million extension contract with the Steelers in 2009. He was named AFC defensive player of the year for his outstanding performance once again.

For him, the year 2010 was a success. He recorded a total of 100 tackles, 70 of which were solo: 10.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 6 forced fumbles.

On April 13, 2013, Harrison signed a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. However, he only stayed with the squad for 11 months until being released on March 13, 2014.

James retired from the Steelers after being released by the Cincinnati Bengals. However, he returned to the Steelers and agreed to a two-year extension contract worth $2.65 million with a $500k signing bonus.

The Steelers forced Harrison to sign a new contract with a two-year extension due to his excellent performance. Harrison, on the other hand, was unable to play for long and was discharged on December 23, 2017.

Harrison signed a one-year contract with the New England Patriots three days following his release. He also didn’t last long with the Patriots.

The intimidating presence of James Harrison

On September 24, on NFL Network, the Emmy-nominated and critically acclaimed NFL Films produced series “A Football Life“ continues with a profile of two-time Super Bowl Champion and NFL Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison.

Harrison, former Pittsburgh Steelers teammates Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu, and Brett Keisel, Steelers head coaches Mike Tomlin and Bill Cowher, and others will be interviewed on the one-hour show.

Few things NFL Network does better than hour-long bios of some of the best and/or most interesting people who have helped the National Football League become America’s premier professional sports league, and the program on James Harrison is one of the best.

During the broadcast, narrator Josh Charles explains that Harrison is portrayed as both a hero and a villain, but what also comes through are the actual feelings of those who sat in front of the camera and discussed the show’s protagonist.

Bill Cowher, the Hall of Fame coach who cut Harrison three times, wrote a testimonial on Harrison’s grit and talent, and how he personifies what it means to be a Steelers linebacker and a professional football player who plied his trade in Pittsburgh.

That isn’t a rare trait among NFL players, particularly defenders, especially veteran defenders who have played in Super Bowls and been asked innumerable idiotic questions over the course of nearly two decades. After you stand in front of them with a recorder, ask a few more foolish questions, and live to tell the tale, most of them become less terrifying.

But there’s something about Harrison’s steely glare, methodical pace, and overall demeanour that appeals to me. Harrison, toughest of tough people, fitness warrior of workout warriors, and ageless veteran of immortal veterans, take inaccessibility to new heights.

hi-res-0a6afee43b526fb49f56758acd0a7966_crop_exact.jpg (900×600)

Professional athletes face a lot of intimidation, but James Harrison claims that the guy you see on film isn’t who he is when the cameras stop rolling.

James Harrison, a former NFL great, chatted with WrestleZone recently ahead of the first episode of ‘Heels,’ and discussed how his ‘intimidating’ character on the football field contrasts with his role on the show and who he is in real life.

Harrison portrays Apocalypse, a journeyman wrestler with a more gentle big demeanour than the guy people witnessed on the gridiron.

Harrison claims that his NFL character was created on purpose and that it was a psychological game to beat his opponent before they even locked up on the field.

“Like I said, that’s a persona,” Harrison continued.

“I was putting on a persona, I come out the tunnel and I got the mean look, I get to stare around, all that. And I want to try and—before I even touch the field, before I get a chance to put my hands on you.

“I want you to see the intimidation. I want to try and intimidate you. It shouldn’t work, being that we’re all professional athletes, but for some guys, it does and that’s part of the mental toughness or weakness of certain individuals,” he concluded.

Read More: James Harrison net worth and salary in 2021

Add Comment