James Harrison is one of the top players under the microscope each year when it comes time to decide who will head to Canton, Ohio, for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He has plenty of accolades to hang his hat on, including his legendary pick-six in the Super Bowl, a Defensive Player of the Year award, and notable counting stats.
Earlier this month, the NFL nominated Harrison as one of the candidates for the 2024 class. His career needs a little introduction into what he meant for the 2000s defenses that soared Pittsburgh to two Super Bowl championships in that period. But here’s a little background on the case for him.
James Harrison is one of the team’s most legendary outside linebackers. Initially joining the team as an undrafted free agent in 2002, it took him years to catch on with the squad full time, and Harrison considered giving up football. But starting in 2004, he was a long-term fixture of the Pittsburgh defense that won Super Bowls XL and XLIII. Harrison had the most memorable play of the latter game, with a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown just before the half, serving as one of the top plays in NFL history. Harrison was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, a four-time All-Pro and a five-time Pro Bowler.
But when talking with TMZ Sports, Harrison shot down his candidacy. The biggest reason why Harrison does not see himself as Hall of Fame material? It’s the counting stats. That is one place where Harrison falls short of the Hall of Fame mark with 84.5 career sacks and 34 forced fumbles.
“As far as Hall of Fame, you know, it’s a lot of things that goes into that,” Harrison said “And I believe numbers is one of those things, you know? And when you look at my numbers, they just don’t, for me, they don’t equate to what the numbers should be.”
Those numbers have kept mainly Harrison out of the Hall of Fame until now. Will he make it at some point? Chances are the answer to that is yes down the road. Harrison may see himself with a bust in Canton. His iconic plays stand up, and his peak is among the most dominant reigns of terror in that generation of players.