Former NFL offensive lineman and FOX Sports analyst Mark Schlereth defended former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison’s decision to join the New England Patriots during an appearance on The Herd Thursday.
Schlereth, who spent his final six seasons with the Denver Broncos — which included winning two Super Bowls — said he would have joined a nemesis team in order to chase one more ring had he been cut prior to what he believed to be the end of his playing career.
“Absolutely,” Schlereth said. “And I hate the [Oakland] Raiders with a white, hot intensity of 1,000 suns. I still hate them. I hate them. But I would don the silver and black. I would don the silver and black for an opportunity to play. If I still thought I was valuable, and I still thought that I had something to give, and that I wasn’t being given that opportunity and somebody else was going to give me that opportunity and a chance to chase championship, you don gone right. I’d don that silver and black, and I’d be proud of it.
Harrison, who had previously spent 14 seasons in Pittsburgh, was released by the Steelers earlier this week and signed with the New England Patriots days later.
The former NFL Defensive of the Player of the Year was benched in favor of rookie first-round draft pick T.J. Watt and expressed his frustration earlier in the season. Harrison recorded 82.5 career sacks (eighth among active players), eight interceptions and 570 tackles during his career and is a five-time Pro Bowler, two-time All-Pro linebacker and two-time Super Bowl champion.
He also holds the Steelers’ career sack record (80.5) and led the team with five as recently as the 2016 season.
With the Patriots, the future Hall of Famer could play a vital role on a defense that has suddenly improved its play and currently holds the top seed in the AFC standings.
Harrison may also be able to some revenge on his former team as the Steelers rank second in the conference and could face New England in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship this postseason.