CINCINNATI - We were talking over the phone with James Harrison, but it sure sounded to me like it was David Fulcher. They're both thoughtful in their answers, neither says much more than they have to say, and neither is boastful or loud. Both speak softly.
Except when they're on the football field. There, they'll knock you into the second row.
Of course Fulcher's time as Bengals strong safety dates back to the late 80s and early 90s. Harrison's time started on Tuesday when his signing with the Bengals was officially announced.
But I make the comparison because Fulcher was a noted hitter for the last Bengals team to go to a Super Bowl. Harrison hopes to do the same for the next Bengals team to get there.
"My thing was I wanted to play with a team that was competitive and had a chance of winning a Super Bowl," Harrison told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. "I felt Baltimore and Cincinnati were those teams."
He worked out a deal out with the Bengals after visiting a week ago. He went through a workout in front of the coaches. "Not a lot of guys at this point in their career are willing to do that," said Marvin Lewis.
But it wasn't a major deal for Harrison. He knew it was necessary to put to rest any concerns about a knee that kept him out of a few games last season.
He says he's closer now to the player who was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2008 because he's spent considerable time in Arizona rehabbing that knee. He hasn't had that luxury in the past.
Harrison was a five-time All Pro as a member of Dick LeBeau's defense in Pittsburgh. The Steelers weren't willing to pay Harrison what he wanted. "I don't have a chip on my shoulder against the Steelers" said Harrison Tuesday. "I don't hate the Steelers."
But Harrison admits he was disappointed to leave the city that he now calls home.
Harrison feels he can bring leadership to the Bengals, especially to a group of young linebackers. He says he leads by example, not by talking.
"I'm a humble person," he said on the conference call. "You might look at the guy on the field and think 'Oh my god, he's a crazed maniac, blah, blah, blah,' all that other stuff that they portray, but that's not me."
When asked if the Bengals are lacking a specific piece to becoming a championship contender, Harrison paused for nearly 10 seconds.
"I don't think it's like a piece, I think it's more of a consistency, being more consistent. I'll leave it at that."
James Harrison will wear No. 92 on the Bengals, which was previously worn by Jamaal Anderson. Harrison says he spoke to Anderson, who was willing to relinquish the number.
Harrison says he plans to join the Bengals in about three weeks for off-season workouts.
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