Harrison's personal connection to Ravens

March, 16, 2013
3/16/13
9:00
AM ET
Why would former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison want to go to the rival Baltimore Ravens? Why would he want to join a team that abruptly cut him in 2004?

Well, millions of dollars always helps in ironing out relationships. But, with the Ravens, it's more than that for Harrison. Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees was Harrison's head coach when they were both at Kent State. There's no doubt that Pees has vouched for Harrison.

After off-the-field issues scared away Ohio State and Notre Dame, Harrison went to Kent State without a scholarship and reportedly clashed with Pees early during his time there. Pees demanded that Harrison raise his grades and attend nightly study halls. With Pees' help, Harrison earned a 3.0 grade-point average and made the dean's list.

According to a New York Times article, Harrison "eventually grew so close to Pees that he would show up unannounced at Pees’s home and ask his wife what was for dinner." When Harrison was later inducted into the Kent State Hall of Fame, he credited Pees for his development there.

In reflecting on Pees' influence, Harrison told The Boston Globe in 2009: "He had an open mind with me, and didn’t worry about any of the things I did previous to being there. Once I got there, it was ‘I don’t care about what you’ve done in the past, it’s about right now, and going to judge you from here on out.’ That really helped me."

The Ravens and Harrison's agent are scheduled to have talks Saturday. In Harrison's mind, he isn't looking to join a fierce rival. He's looking to reunite with an old mentor.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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