Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled we no longer have to play against Harrison and am excited about what he may bring to the table for us (though I still remain skeptical on how effective he'll be). However, I simply do not like the guy. And it sort of pains me to be rooting for this team with him on it, especially if he does contribute like we hope he does.
The obvious characteristics he displays which I'm sure rub many of you the wrong way would include his passive aggressive demeanor, incendiary comments, seemingly blowing off coaches, and his general arrogant display of contempt (you can tell many of his teammates and coaches are walking on egg shells around him).
What I find most appalling however is this supposed notion that he doesn't like media attention. I call shenanigans on this. There's no way you can convince me that a guy with his clout wouldn't be able to tell Hard Knocks or Mike Brown that he simply doesn't want to appear on the show.
The fact is he relishes the spotlight. But unfortunately for him, he doesn't have much of an entertaining personality, so he resorts to (and from what I can tell is probably his general approach to life) taking on the "world is against me" chip on his shoulder stance. He basks in the facade that people like Roger Goodell and the media are out to get him when all he wants to do is play football and hit people.
His schtick is being the NFL's premier badass and some sort of aloof eccentricity. Back in 2011, he was featured in a Men's Journal article titled, "Confessions of an NFL Hitman", in which the writer attempts to cast a glimpse into his life. Beyond derogatory rants about Goodell, Steeler teammates, and others around the league, his physical therapy routine, and claims to grab rattle snakes and throw them over a fence, there isn't much to the article.
The whole premise was that James Harrison prefers being in isolation away from national exposure - yet he granted an interview with Men's Journal along with a self-promoting photograph of him posing with two guns in his hands. But he doesn't like media attention....
The sad truth is in a few years, he'll no longer be the badass he currently is (an image he tries hard to maintain as the hundreds of thousands of dollars he spends on physical conditioning would indicate) and people will no longer care about him. You could even see it in his interaction with AJ Green and Gruden. He realizes his time is limited and is no longer the man - a reality he detests rather than accepts.
Typically the most valuable contributions of a veteran are mentorship to younger players and being able to lead on the field (e.g. Dhani Jones). Perhaps it happens behind the scenes, but so far I'm not seeing it out of him and don't expect I will.
To me, the most disconcerting scene in the first episode of Hard Knocks was when Guenther timidly approached Harrison about playing in the middle during certain situations. Harrison reacted by looking the other way and providing a terse, condoning response as if he didn't want to be bothered with anymore discussion on the matter. If this is indicative of their actual work relationship, I'm afraid we aren't getting anything out of Harrison beyond what he puts out on the field.
I can't help but be reminded of Barry Bonds and his infamous interactions, or lack thereof, with teammates. While I can't help but respect the arduous work he's put in over the years to achieve what he has, it is somewhat demoting to realize the true nature of a guy who is glorified and idolized by so many adoring fans.