James Harrison will one day be the subject of an interesting discussion for the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. That discussion, we now know, can begin in five years.
"I have made the difficult decision to retire as of today," Harrison said in a statement released on Facebook. "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. I am sincerely thankful to the people who have supported me over the years, first and foremost my family, the Rooney family and my Steeler family, also Mr. Brown, the Bengals organization and fans, and last but FAR from least, Steeler Nation. Thank you."
Harrison played one season in Cincinnati after 10 years in Pittsburgh. He was released multiple times early in his career and then settled in as a rarely used backup in Pittsburgh for four seasons. He finally became a starter -- and a star -- at age 29. He wound up making the Pro Bowl five times, being a first-team All-Pro twice and winning the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year award. (We also thought he had a strong case for the award after the 2010 season in which the Steelers lost the Super Bowl.)
Ultimately, we suspect Harrison's peak will be too short for him to make it into the Hall of Fame. But he'll go down as one of the most memorable -- and feared -- players of his generation.