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James Harrison asked Steelers to release him on three separate occasions

New Patriot James Harrison was on the practice field with coach Bill Belichick on Wednesday. (sports)John Tlumacki/Globe staff

James Harrison wanted out of Pittsburgh and asked the Steelers on three separate occasions to be released, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Wednesday.

Harrison was cut last Saturday and signed with the Patriots on Tuesday. He practiced with the Patriots on Wednesday, although he was not made available to speak with the media in New England. He did speak to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, however.

“After the first week of the season, I said to them, it’s clear you want to play your younger guys and I understand, so why don’t you release me,’’ Harrison told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “You go on your way and I’ll go on mine. They said, ‘No, no, no, we got a role for you.’ ”


The linebacker played only 40 snaps all season and was inactive for six games and did not play in three others.

Harrison, 39, did not play in Pittsburgh’s 27-24 loss to the Patriots, which he referred to as a breaking point. He said he was told during the week “to be ready, that I’d get a lot of [playing] time. I didn’t get any snaps.

“If I didn’t play in the biggest game of the year, that told me I wouldn’t get any more snaps. So all that lip service you gave me before didn’t matter.”

The following day Harrison asked Steelers coach Mike Tomlin to be released. Harrison said Tomlin told him, “I’d have to be absolutely crazy to release you if something happened with injuries.”

He was released five days later.

Harrison said he was a little wary about signing with the Patriots and even called Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter to talk things over. In the end, he called it a “business decision.”

Harrison also told Dulac he’s been told he’ll play against the Jets this Sunday and that Belichick hasn’t asked him “one thing” about the Steelers system.


Nora Princiotti of the Globe staff contributed to this report.