Clark: Harrison should be embraced

Updated: December 12, 2013, 6:48 PM ET
By Scott Brown | ESPN.com

PITTSBURGH -- Former Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace heard his share of boos Sunday while playing his first game in Heinz Field for the opposing team.

Will James Harrison receive a similar reception from fans Sunday night when the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Steelers? Former teammate Ryan Clark and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau hope not.

"I hope they show him the respect he deserves for what he did for this team, this organization, for the way he approached football, the passion he played with, the passion he worked with in this building," Clark said. "Was he the nicest guy ever? Not really. But what he was paid for he did exceptionally hard and exceptionally well, and I hope the fans here recognize that and understand that him leaving was just business; nothing was personal."

Harrison signed with the Bengals in April, about six weeks after the Steelers released the five-time Pro Bowler when the two sides could not agree on a salary reduction.

He has played in every game for the Bengals this season and recorded 27 tackles and two sacks. Harrison, whose role has increased as the season has progressed, also has an interception.

Before leaving the Steelers, Harrison had been the face of a hard-hitting (and oft-fined) defense and one of the most productive players in franchise history.

Harrison is fourth on the Steelers' all-time sacks list (64) despite not starting until 2007, his fourth full season with the team. Sixteen of those sacks came in 2008 when Harrison won NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors and led the Steelers to a sixth Super Bowl title.

He returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown at the end of the first half of Super Bowl XLIII, and LeBeau has said that may be the greatest play in the game's history.

"He's one of the greatest Steelers defenders," LeBeau said of Harrison, who was cut three times by the Steelers before finally sticking with the team. "I'm not going to wish him success in the game, but I do love the man."

As for the reception Harrison will receive from Steelers fans, LeBeau said, "I know what he'll get from me."

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.