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James Harrison: 'I didn't sign up to sit on the bench'

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The Pittsburgh Steelers' divorce from James Harrison continues to wind down a messy path.

Following Harrison's release and signing with the New England Patriots, Steelers players blasted the veteran linebacker, saying he wanted out of Pittsburgh.

On Friday, Harrison took to Instagram to release a statement detailing how the season unraveled from his point of view:

"If anybody thought I signed a two-year deal with a team in the NFL at age 39 to sit on the bench and collect a check and a participation trophy, they're mistaken," Harrison wrote. "I didn't sign up to sit on the bench and be a cheerleader. I was clear about that when I signed, and I was told I would be on the field when I signed. When I was asking for reps in camp, I got none. I got lip service though: we know what you can do -- you don't need the reps. But I know what my body needs in order to be in shape to compete, and I said so, but still zero reps.

"At the beginning of the season, when it was clear I didn't have a role anymore, I asked to be released. Throughout the season, I was told week in and out that I'd be used. I wasn't. I started getting frustrated about the whole thing. I asked to not be dressed or take unnecessary practice reps if I wasn't going to play. That's what happened for a [couple] weeks, then we had a game week that I got solid reps in practice and everyone assumed I would play. I got to the stadium four hours early as usual, and my locker was empty. Nobody said anything to me about being inactive, just an empty locker. I asked to be released again. I was told no.

"A couple weeks later, they dress me for the game so I assume I'm going to play, and I get zero reps. Stood on the sideline the whole game. I asked to be released again, I was told no. Then a few days later, they released me. I was never told I would be brought back, it was: If I bring [you] back, be in shape. I cleared waivers, and they didn't call. New England called. Also, to be clear, ask Ryan [Shazier] if I came to see him in the hospital. I didn't help Bud [Dupree] or T.J. [Watt]? Ask T.J. if I helped him.

"Maybe I didn't handle my frustration the best that I could've. If you haven't learned anything about me over the last 16 years, I'm a competitor to my core. I live and breathe competition. I do what it takes to keep my body and my mind ready to be on that field. I do it for me, I do it for my family, I do it for my team and I do it for the fans. Nothing else to it. At the end of the day, they made a business decision and so did I."

Harrison played just 38 snaps for the Steelers this season. The veteran's comments about helping younger players stemmed from Dupree laughing when asked if Harrison was a mentor.

If the Patriots and Steelers meet in the playoffs with Harrison in action, there will assuredly be more fireworks to come.

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