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Mike Tomlin: James Harrison is ‘Hall of Fame Worthy’



Steelers OLB James Harrison

Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison was ferocious. A force to be reckoned with. A central piece on one of the game’s best defenses. For that, head coach Mike Tomlin believes he deserves a bust in Canton, Ohio.

“He’s Hall of Fame worthy,” Tomlin told’s Bob Labriola. “Ask anyone who was playing in the National Football League at that time. Anytime a guy is involved directly or indirectly with the change in the playing rules, that’s significant in the ways that Mel Blount changed the way of the passing game when he was on his game. You ask anybody who was playing in the National Football League at that time, and James Harrison was probably directly responsible for the player safety initiative.”

In 2010 alone, Harrison was docked over $120,000 for helmet-to-helmet hits. His bone-rattling shots felt by former Cleveland Browns Colt McCoy and Mohamed Massaquoi during that time period come to mind.

“Advancements in the game for the betterment of all parties involved is a good thing, but the men behind it, the guys who are kind of involved in change are special people,” Tomlin said. “And no question that James’ style of play — what he was physically capable of doing, his demeanor, his reputation — are legendary.”

The 2008 Defensive Player of the Year holds the Steelers’ record with 80.5 career sacks. He was also a first-team All-Pro. But, his career will be remembered in large part because of the shiver he sent down opponents’ spines.

“The butt-kicking component in this game will never go away,” Tomlin said. “It’s above schematics. It’s above the ‘evolution of the game.’ … I haven’t been around a football player who I can definitively say is tougher than James Harrison. Maybe we can have conversations about people who you would say, ‘might be as tough as.’ But there are zero people. When I think about toughness and who I’ve been exposed to, the poster boy is James Harrison.”

Harrison is one of five players to be a semifinalist in his first year of eligibility. The others are offensive linemen Jahri Evans and Joe Thomas, defensive lineman Dwight Freeney, and defensive back Darrelle Revis.

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