Steelers Nation has been abuzz recently about ‘The Strange Case of Mr. Harrison’s Troublesome Knee’. The knee arrived at training camp so troubled that it and the player attached to it were added to the Home Team’s already lengthy P.U.P. list. Other Steelers whose names were on same said list, had surgery to their troubled limbs immediately following last year’s early exit from the AFC playoff picture. Hampton, Mendenhall, and Starks all went under the knife sooner rather than later so that they could be better prepared for this season and put last season and the injuries that came with it behind them.
James Harrison is a tough sumbitch plain and simple. Tough enough to fight his way onto an NFL squad when it was pretty evident that none really wanted him. He’s proven himself tough enough to make that NFL squad, become one of its standouts on a defense full of stand outs, and then be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year. I’m not questioning his toughness. Harrison has also accumulated his fair share of injuries. Shoulder, groin, orbital fracture, chronic back problems, and now the knee, have been tearing playing time away from the one they call Silverback.
Nobody has ever questioned James Harrison’s playing style. Ok, ok. A crap load of people have questioned James Harrison’s playing style but very few would ever doubt his passion and tenacity for the game of football. When #92 hits you, you stay hit. But questions have always circled Mr. Harrison’s off the field decisions. He’s had some money trouble, he’s had some problems maintaining domestic bliss, and he loves him some pistols in his poster. Could not addressing the troublesome knee much earlier in this off season dramatically affect this present season? Is James Harrison tired of the surgeries? Did he do damage to the knee in an off season work out ala T. Suggs? Or did Harrison miss a huge opportunity to fill the leadership void left on the Steelers defense in the absence of Aaron Smith, and more importantly, James Farrior?
Bus Cook, Harrison’s agent, reports that the knee surgery is minor in nature and that he could be ready to go as early as the September 9thregular season opener in Denver. Hmmm…. Could James Harrison’s decision not to have this simple procedure much earlier in the year be chalked up to laziness? Everyone knows that James Harrison knows how to play the game of professional tackle football. Everyone has also heard from every player to ever play the game that three weeks of sweating your ass off in Latrobe flat out blows. Would a guy intentionally come into camp with a knee that needs just a little tweaking, stay on the bloated P.U.P. list for three weeks, and then opt for the surgery that comes with a tidy three week recuperation time, just to avoid wind sprints in 98% humidity? An oft injured veteran, that is in no danger of losing his starting job to an up and comer might just be tempted.