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James Harrison is just having his mid-life crisis

Hopefully any Steelers fans who saw the solar eclipse of 2017 still have those safety glasses handy, because judging from the reaction in Pittsburgh they’ll need them to bear the sight of James Harrison in a Patriots uniform.

If Steelers fans think it’s hard for them to see Harrison in those threads, imagine how the Jets are going to feel on Sunday. Lined up across from Harrison’s menacing stare, they’re going to have to keep themselves from laughing.

Harrison in a Patriots uniform shouldn’t mortify Steelers fans. It should amuse them.

He looks silly in those clothes.

Harrison, who signed with the Patriots three days after being released by the Steelers, has a game face that could make the Demogorgon in Stranger Things curl up in a fetal position. But what good does that do when it’s surrounded by a helmet decorated with that cartoonish Flying Elvis logo?

This is Harrison’s mid-life crisis.

At 39, Harrison is one of the few NFL players literally old enough to go through a mid-life crisis. Very often a divorce is part of a mid-life crisis, and that’s what happened after 14 years with the Steelers. Sometimes, a shiny new sports car will get a man through his mid-life crisis. By putting on that Patriots uniform, Harrison is the NFL version of the middle-aged guy in the bright red convertible.

In other words, he looks like a jackass.

Apparently, he also acted like a jackass in his final weeks as a Steeler.

Harrison played just 40 snaps this season and was only active in five of the 14 games he was with the Steelers. Third-year linebacker Bud Dupree said on his radio show, via CBSSports.com, that Harrison would leave the stadium when he found out he was inactive. Dupree also said that Harrison wouldn’t attend meetings, and another source told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN that Harrison would fall asleep at position meetings that he did attend and snore while linebackers coach Joey Porter was talking.

This is eerily similar to the LeGarrette Blount situation in 2014. The Steelers signed Blount as Le’Veon Bell‘s backup and he played in 11 games, but in a 27-24 win at Tennessee in which Bell ran for 204 yards and Blount didn’t get a carry, Blount walked into the locker room before the end of the game and bolted for the team bus before most of his teammates had even showered. The Steelers promptly released him and he was reunited with the Patriots. Six days after that game, he scored two touchdowns for New England.

Had Blount been a better teammate, the Steelers could have used him in the playoffs. Bell was injured in the regular-season finale, and with a backfield tandem of Ben Tate and Josh Harris the Steelers were no match for the Ravens, who beat them 30-17 in the wild-card round.

Blount, meanwhile, ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-7, divisional-round win over the Colts and the Patriots went on to win their fourth Super Bowl.

The Patriots, who somehow manage to benefit from loopholes like the Tuck Rule and the inability of the NFL to define a catch, benefited that year from the Steelers’ intolerance of a locker-room cancer.

That could turn out to be the case this year, too, and the knife would sink ever deeper into the Steelers’ back if Harrison has a hand in a Patriots’ win over the Steelers in the AFC championship game.

This possibility is why so many Harrison jerseys have been burned over the last three days. Perhaps the jersey burners should have thought things through, however, because while there’s a chance Harrison strip sacks Ben Roethlisberger to clinch a trip to the Super Bowl for the Patriots, there’s also a chance that Harrison’s days with the Patriots turn out to be as forgettable as Franco Harris‘ days with the Seahawks or Greg Lloyd‘s days with the Panthers.

When he played for the Bengals in 2013, Harrison had two sacks in 15 games. He wasn’t quite as effective in a 4-3 defense, which is the Patriots’ base formation. Sure, the Patriots mix up their defense and it stands to reason that they’ll find better ways to use Harrison than the Bengals did, and having Harrison would come in handy if the Chiefs come to Gillette Stadium for a playoff game. Harrison owns Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher. A holding call on Fisher against Harrison negated a game-tying two-point conversion in the Chiefs’ divisional playoff loss to the Steelers last year, and Harrison’s only sack this season clinched the Steelers’ 19-13 win at Kansas City in Week 6.

But what if Fisher is the only blocker that Harrison can still beat?

It could be that Harrison’s most valuable contribution to the Patriots will be intelligence on the Steelers’ inner workings. But the Patriots are 5-0 against the Steelers over the last four years. How much can he tell them that they don’t already know?

Whatever secrets Harrison does spill in New England, he’s helping the Steelers more by taking his act somewhere else.

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets.

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