The NFL's iron man, James Harrison, plans on playing next year at age 38.
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"He's under contract for one more year," Bill Parise, Harrison's agent, told ESPN.com. "We plan to honor that."
It shouldn't be a surprise, and sometimes we get caught up in age. Last year, Harrison played 622 snaps and was undoubtedly one of the best 3-4 outside linebackers in the league. With a unit still in rebuilding mode, having an on-field general willing to play at just $1.25 million in base salary is a simple decision for head coach Mike Tomlin, one of Harrison's closest confidantes.
After the Steelers were bounced from the playoffs, Harrison was initially hesitant about relaying his intentions.
"It's a little tougher for me because I'm in a situation where I'm a little uncertain about what I'm going to do," Harrison told the Post-Gazette last month. "I can't say that was it right now, I wouldn't be comfortable saying that."
He added: "I'm 37 years old, I'll be 38 (in May). It's not as easy as I would hope."
Harrison's rub was mostly related to recovery. His body doesn't bounce back as quickly as it used to, but there are few athletes as resilient and pain-indifferent than Harrison, who has been in the NFL since 2002.
Perhaps Harrison will be even more of a situational player this year, which can give Pittsburgh's younger pass rushers a chance to develop quicker. Then again, if a player is tough enough to gut it out on defense at 38, he's probably the type who wants to be a three-down player.