LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – New England Patriots outside linebacker James Harrison, the oldest defensive player in the NFL at age 39, has no plans to make next Sunday’s Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles his last game.
Harrison, who turns 40 in May, thinks he can play the 2018 season – and perhaps the 2019 season as well.
“I maybe want to play a year at 40, maybe 41,” Harrison told ESPN’s Mike Reiss earlier in week.
Harrison spent 14 seasons with the Steelers before being waived and signing with the Patriots on December 26.
Harrison has played 89 defensive snaps in three games with the Patriots, including the postseason, totalling 11 tackles and two sacks as he continues to show he can deliver pressure off the edge in passing situations.
Harrison played only 38 snaps through the Steelers’ first 14 games, compared to 587 last season. That represented 13 percent of the team’s total defensive snaps at the time of his release.
“At some point in time, I’m going to have to stop (playing),” Harrison told ESPN, explaining why it’s probably two years maximum. “I told my son (James III) he could play contact football when I stop, so I’m going to have to give it up in the near future, so he can start getting adjusted to playing. I don’t want him to wait too long.
“He’s already 10, and then he’ll be playing against kids who have been doing it for four or five years, contact football, and they’ll know how to take a hit and give a hit. To have a kid come into high school, or even be 14, 15 years old and have been playing since they were 10, that puts him at a disadvantage, especially just safety-wise.”
Harrison has 84.5 career sacks – 80.5 of which have come in 177 games over 14 seasons in a Steelers uniform. He had 2.0 sacks in his lone season with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013. He returned to Pittsburgh in 2014 and produced at least 5.0 sacks for three consecutive seasons before making just one sack with the Steelers in 2017.
Harrison signed a one-year deal with the Patriots and will be a free agent after the season.