By Teresa Varley
James Harrison knows that there are people who never thought he would be where he is today – preparing to take part in his first Pro Bowl as a starting linebacker for the AFC squad.
"People have said a little bit of everything," said Harrison. "Some said I couldn't play in the league, some said I wouldn't start, that I wouldn't make the Pro Bowl. Some said I am too slow, too short. Whatever you want to think of it's been said."
And that is part of what motivates him. There is nothing he likes more than proving to the doubters that he can do whatever it is they think he can't.
"I get more drive out of what people say I can't do than people saying he can do this or that," said Harrison. "I like proving people wrong. If you say I can't do something, that's when I want to go out there and prove to you that you are wrong and I can do this."
Harrison had a breakout season in 2007, his first as a starter for the Steelers. In addition to making it to the Pro Bowl he was voted MVP by his teammates.
"Every body looks to try to make it to the elite position in your sport and making the Pro Bowl is one of those elite positions," said Harrison. "It was not a goal I was necessarily aiming for. My main goal was to win the Super Bowl and that didn't happen. It was a secondary goal. Right now that is my goal from here on out – to make the Pro Bowl."
It wasn't an easy road for him, though. Harrison has had his ups and downs, being cut multiple times and spending his fair share of time on the practice squad. He gradually moved his way up the ranks, from a special team's standout to a starter. And he got there via hard work.
"I would say yeah, that hard work played a role," said Harrison. "I am not the only guy that works hard. A lot of things fell through for me. It's a blessing to stay healthy. That is first and foremost. I am happy I got to the point where I am now. Hopefully I will continue to be blessed and make a few more Pro Bowls.
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Another first-time Pro Bowl selection, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, is enjoying his time in Hawaii, spending time on the golf course when practice ends each day.
"I wanted to come out, have fun and enjoy it and put the work in when you are here and try to win the game," said Roethlisberger.
The Mel Blount Youth Home will hold its 10th Annual All-Star Celebrity Roast on Friday, April 4 at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel.
The year's roast will honor former Steelers strong safety Donnie Shell.
For more information or to purchase tickets for the event, contact the Mel Blount Youth Home at 724-948-2311 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.