James Harrison retires from NFL

James Harrison, a five-time Pro Bowl linebacker and former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, is retiring from football.

Harrison, who spent 10 years with the Pittsburgh Steelers and played his final NFL season with the Cincinnati Bengals last year, announced his decision Saturday on his Facebook page.

"I have made the difficult decision to retire as of today," Harrison's statement said. "My love for my family and the need to be there for them outweighs my desire to play the game. I have missed too many experiences with them because I devoted SO much time to my career.

"My love for the game isn't strong enough to make up for missing one more birthday or first day of school."

The 36-year-old Harrison entered the league in 2002 as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State. He then played 10 seasons with the Steelers before spending all of last year with the Bengals.

On the heels of his least productive year since his second season in the NFL, Harrison was cut by the Bengals back in March. In 15 games, he had just 30 tackles and two sacks. Used primarily in run-stopping situations, Harrison didn't see the field much in those 15 games.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Harrison was part of only 365 snaps last season. That was the lowest number recorded for him since before 2008, the year Stats & Information first recorded players' snaps.

As a free agent this offseason, Harrison was trying to catch on with another team. He was still working toward that goal as late as this week, when he visited the Arizona Cardinals.

Harrison won two Super Bowls with the Steelers, assisting in the 2005 and 2008 victories. One of the most memorable plays of his career was his 100-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

In his statement, Harrison thanked his past owners, Art Rooney II and Mike Brown, for giving him opportunities to play.

"I am sincerely thankful to the people who have supported me over the years," Harrison added. "First and foremost my family, the Rooney family and my Steeler family, also Mr. Brown, the Bengals organization and fans, and last but FAR from least, Steeler Nation."

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