NFL: Harrison voted NFL’s best
By Barry Wilner
Associated PressNEW YORK ó Kent State once sent a linebacker to the Pittsburgh Steelers who epitomized everything the Steel Curtain was about. That was Jack Lambert.
The current version of the hard-hitting, versatile and dynamic former Kent Stater in Steel City is James Harrison, The Associated Press 2008 Defensive Player of the Year.
Harrison, a linebacker who had a career-high 16 sacks to set a team record and led the NFL with a career-high seven forced fumbles, beat Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware in balloting announced Monday.
“That’s something that everybody in the league would love to have, to be voted the top player in the league for that year,” Harrison said. “In my mind, I think I do ó and it’s going to sound boring ó what the defense allows me to do and what my teammates allow me to do.”
Harrison earned 22 votes to 13 for Ware.
Baltimore safety Ed Reed, the 2004 winner, got eight votes. Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth had five and safety Troy Polamalu, got two.
“It couldn’t happen to a better guy,” Steelers veteran Hines Ward said. “He’s worked his tail off to get to where he is.”
Harrison credited defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s schemes with allowing him, an undrafted free agent who was cut several times by Pittsburgh and once by Baltimore, to eventually become a star.
“The defense is built to play with 11 guys,” Harrison said. “If all 11 guys are on the same page, playing the same defense on the same play, there’s nothing that can go wrong.”