October 28, 2013

MVP Profile: James Harrison, 2008

Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers

Age:  30
6th season in pro football & with Steelers
College: Kent State
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 242

Joining the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 2002, Harrison spent most of his time on the practice squad and was briefly signed by the Ravens in 2003, who sent him to the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe. Cut by Baltimore, Harrison returned to Pittsburgh and finally caught on for good in 2004 as he showed great improvement and started four games. Versatile and a good special teams performer, he got his chance to start full-time at outside linebacker in 2007 after Joey Porter was released and had a breakout year. He recorded 8.5 sacks and was named team MVP as well as to the Pro Bowl. Showing great strength and toughness, he was good against the run as well as rushing opposing quarterbacks.

2008 Season Summary
Appeared in 15 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – 16 [4]
Most sacks, game – 3 vs. Houston 9/7
Multi-sack games (2 or more) – 4
Interceptions – 1
Int. yards – 33
Int. TDs – 0
Fumble recoveries – 0
Forced fumbles – 7
Tackles – 59
Assists – 34

Safeties – 1
Points – 2

Postseason: 3 G
Sacks – 1
Interceptions – 1
Int. return yards – 100
Tackles – 10
Assists – 4
TDs – 2

Awards & Honors:
NFL Defensive Player of the Year: AP
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Steelers went 12-4 to finish first in the AFC North while leading the NFL in fewest yards allowed (3795), fewest passing yards allowed (2511), and fewest points (223) and the AFC in sacks (51) and fewest rushing yards allowed (1284). Won AFC Divisional playoff over San Diego Chargers (35-24), AFC Championship over Baltimore Ravens (23-14), and Super Bowl over Arizona Cardinals (27-23).

Harrison’s sack total dropped to 10 in 2009 as he was also receiving more attention from opposing blockers, but he still played well in tandem with LaMarr Woodley. He was selected to a third straight Pro Bowl. Harrison made it five straight in 2010 and ’11, and was again a consensus first-team All-NFL selection in 2010 although his aggressive play often had him targeted by the league for illegal hits that led to multiple fines and a one-game suspension in 2011. Following a lesser year at age 34 in 2012, Harrison was released by the Steelers and joined the Cincinnati Bengals for 2013, converting to outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense. Through 2012, he had accumulated a total of 64 sacks, 29 forced fumbles, and five interceptions. Harrison has been chosen to the Pro Bowl a total of five times and received at least some first- or second-team All-NFL honors in four seasons.


MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). Also includes Associated Press NFL Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.