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James Harrison announces his retirement from football

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

James Harrison calls it a career after 11 NFL seasons. (USATSI)
James Harrison calls it a career after 11 NFL seasons. (USATSI)

Three days after James Harrison met with the Cardinals but failed to agree on a contract, the linebacker announced that he has retired from football.

"I have made the difficult decision to retire as of today," he wrote on his Facebook page. "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. I am retiring as a man who is truly grateful for all of his blessings."

Originally an undrafted free agent out of Kent State, Harrison was signed by the Steelers in 2002. He spent two years on their practice squad, and was released three times during that span. He was signed by the Ravens in late 2003 and played in NFL Europe. Baltimore eventually released him and he returned to Pittsburgh prior to the 2004 season. He earned his first NFL start during the '04 season, but didn't become a full-time starter until 2007.

Harrison won Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2008, and punctuated the award with the best play in Super Bowl history: a 100-yard pick-six against the Cardinals in February 2009.

The Steelers released Harrison after the 2013 season, and he played a year with the Bengals before they parted ways with him this offseason. He ends his 11-year career with 472 tackles, 66 sacks, six interceptions and 22 forced fumbles.

"I am sincerely thankful to the people who have supported me over the years, 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," Harrison, 36, wrote. "Thank you."

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