Saturday proved to be an interesting day in the National Football League. Amongst some of those surprises was the retirement of former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison and some surprising cuts as NFL teams had till 4 p.m. ET to trim their rosters down to 53 players.
Harrison, who won the Defensive Player of the Year honor in 2008, decided to call it quits after failing to agree on a contract with the Arizona Cardinals. The outspoken linebacker announced the retirement on his Facebook page. He wrote, “I have made the difficult decision to retire as of today. My love for my family and the need to be there for them outweighs my desire to play the game. I have missed too many experiences with them because I devoted SO much time to my career. My love for the game isn’t strong enough to make up for missing one more birthday or first day of school. I am retiring as a man who is truly grateful for all of his blessings.”
Harrison was originally an undrafted free agent out of Kent State. After spending two years on the Steelers practice squad, Harrison eventually transcended his career in the NFL. His most notable play was a 100-yard pick-sex against the Cardinals in February 2009. It was described as the best play in Super Bowl history and helped the Steelers win the championship.
To go along with Harrison’s retirement announcement, there were some notable NFL roster cuts as teams finalized their 53-man rosters. The cut that stood out the most was the release of 12-time Pro Bowler Champ Bailey. The New Orleans Saints released the 36-year-old cornerback after signing him in the offseason. Bailey played most of his career with the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos. The release may also mean the end of Bailey’s long, productive career.
Other notable cuts were Michael Sam, New York Jets receiver Stephen Hill, Detroit Lions running back Mikel Leshoure, Cleveland Browns receiver Nate Burleson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Cincinnati Bengals running back Benjarvus Green-Ellis and Denver Broncos safety Duke Ihenacho.