James Harrison, Pittsburgh legend, announces retirement

James Harrison, one of the most fierce and feared linebackers in NFL history, has announced his retirement a month short of his 40th birthday. He retires as a two-time Super Bowl champion, a two-time first-team All-Pro, a five-time Pro Bowler, and the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.

Harrison announced his retirement via Instagram:

“I’ve missed way too much for way too long…and I’m done,” he wrote beneath a collage of his children. “Many thanks to my family, coaches, the fans, and everyone who played a role in my football life.”

Harrison’s best known as a Pittsburgh Steeler, but he pinballed back and forth between Pittsburgh and several other teams throughout his career. He signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie in 2002, but had short stints with the Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe.

Harrison was pretty much unstoppable from 2007 to 2012, when he racked up Pro Bowl roster spots and largely terrified the rest of the AFC. His 100-yard interception return against Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals at the end of the first half of Super Bowl XLIII remains one of the defining plays in Super Bowl history, and helped the Steelers cement the win.

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PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 21: Linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the sideline during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field on December 21, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Chiefs 20-12. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 24: James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers sits on the field after sacking Kellen Clemens #10 of the St. Louis Rams after during the Christmas Eve game on December 24, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison lays on the ground after scoring a touchdown after intercepting a pass against the Arizona Cardinals at the end of the second quarter during the NFL's Super Bowl XLIII football game in Tampa, Florida, February 1, 2009. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 15: James Harrison #92 (left) of the Pittsburgh Steelers and outside linebacker coach Joey Porter before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 09: Linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers follows the action against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on November 9, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 2: NBC Sports Sunday Night Football sideline reporter Michele Tafoya interviews linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers after a game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on November 2, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Ravens 43-23. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 12, 2014: Linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks down the sideline during a game against the Cleveland Browns on October 12, 2014 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won 31-10. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 28: Linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the field before a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Heinz Field on September 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Buccaneers defeated the Steelers 27-24. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 29: Linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before the game against the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field on August 29, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - NOVEMBER 20: Linebacker James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the sideline during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on November 20, 2008 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Bengals 27-10. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 08: Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison (92) looks on during the game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 8, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)
Dec 31, 2017; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots outside linebacker James Harrison (92) during the second quarter of their 26-6 win over the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31: James Harrison #92 of the New England Patriots sacks Bryce Petty #9 of the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: James Harrison #92 of the New England Patriots reacts after the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Chris Hogan #15 of the New England Patriots celebrates with James Harrison #92 after winning the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on January 21, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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After flirting with retirement several times, Harrison finished out his career with New England late last season, playing one regular-season game and three playoff games, including this year’s loss in the Super Bowl to Philadelphia. He sparred with his former Pittsburgh teammates over the final weeks of the 2017-18 season, but before long, everyone will likely let bygones be bygones and welcome Harrison into the club of Steeler champion alumni.

Harrison hangs up his helmet with 84.5 sacks and 573 tackles over his 14-year career, along with one of the most brutal workout routines in the NFL. He’ll be imitated, but not duplicated.

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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