FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots’ postgame locker room is typically filled with rehearsed clichés, one-game-at-a-time bromides and an organizational contest to see who can utter the phrase “team win” more often. The lone exception early Sunday morning after a 35-14 blowout of the Tennessee Titans came from veteran linebacker James Harrison, who the Steelers cut earlier this season. This, of course, sets up a potential juicy storyline for the AFC title game if the Patriots end up playing Pittsburgh next weekend.
Harrison said not only does he not plan to watch the Steelers game with Jacksonville, he doesn’t even plan on finding out who wins until he comes to work on Monday.
“I won’t, no,” Harrison said. “I don’t even know what time they’re playing.”
What will he watch instead? He plans on catching the Cartoon Network – “’Family Guy.’ ‘American Dad.’ Stuff like that.”
When asked explicitly what it would mean to play the Steelers, who cut him after 14 seasons, he gave a response that would even make Bill Belichick smile. “No more, no less than it would to play anyone else.”
When reminded that multiple teammates ripped him on the way out the door, Harrison didn’t bite. “Listen, people can say what they want to,” he said. “That’s their opinion.”
Harrison said that not watching the Steelers game had nothing to do with the team or any emotion tied to a franchise where he’s the all-time sacks leader. “I don’t pay attention to sports, I’m not a sports person,” he said. “If my kid isn’t playing, I don’t watch it. If it’s not film study, I won’t watch it. I’m not really into it like that.
“This is my work. It’s just my job. I want to get away from my job.”
As for his new job, Harrison had three more tackles after registering two sacks in his debut against the New York Jets. He credited the Patriots coaches for putting him in the right position to tailor to his strengths. But he added he’s not completely familiar with the new defense.
“Not even close,” he said. “It’s like asking someone who just learned the defense two weeks ago if they’re acclimated to all the calls. It’s not going to happen. It’s like, not even mini-camp. It’s like OTAs on Day 2. You know everything Day 2? Hell no. Stopping asking me that question. I’m not acclimated. Not even close.”
Harrison hugged his old defensive coordinator – 80-year-old Dick LeBeau of Tennessee – in an emotional moment after the game. He said, bluntly – “Without him there is no me.”
Don’t expect Harrison to be too reflective this coming week, however. When asked how energizing his time in New England has been, Harrison responded: “Good.”
He added: “If you ask me a feeling question, you’re going to get one-word answers. OK? Let’s go.”
If the Patriots are on to Pittsburgh, it won’t be the last one-word answer Harrison gives this week.
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