While other former teammates criticized James Harrison for asking the Pittsburgh Steelers for his release, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has all praises for the veteran linebacker, who signed with their AFC rival, the New England Patriots. Before Harrison’s release, he and Roethlisberger were the longest-tenured players on the Steelers’ roster. Harrison joined the Steelers in 2002 and played all but one of his 15 NFL seasons in Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger, for his part, joined the Steelers in 2004.

When asked by Ray Fittipaldo of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about Harrison’s decision to leave the Steelers, Roethlisberger said he’s blessed to play with one of the best guys and football players, even calling the linebacker a “friend for a long time.” Roethlisberger even recalled the times he and Harrison played in some of the Steelers biggest games in franchise history.

“It’s truly been an honor to call him a friend and a teammate. I’ll miss him. It won’t be the same in here without him,” the veteran quarterback said. Roethlisberger said he wasn’t upset with Harrison’s decision to leave the Steelers, saying he’s free to join any team after clearing waivers.

Roethlisberger: Harrison passing secrets a concern

Roethlisberger admitted that players passing secrets to other teams is a concern when they change teams, just like what Steelers fans are expecting Harrison will do with the Patriots. The veteran quarterback remembered that Steelers’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley had to make some changes in their plays after Sammie Coates was traded to the Cleveland Browns before the start of the regular season.

Coates played for the Steelers in 2015 and 2016. Roethlisberger said he’s not worried if Harrison revealed to the Steelers’ offensive scheme to the Patriots, saying they will not play New England this week and next week. However, Roethlisberger admitted that his wife, Ashley, was among the worried Steelers fans about Harrison passing along Steelers secrets to Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

Other Steelers hit Harrison

Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree and center Maurkice Pouncey did not share Roethlisberger’s view about Harrison, saying the veteran linebacker should admit that he was the one who asked for his release and the Steelers did not let him go. “It’s no one’s fault on our team, why he got cut. He cut his self,” said Dupree. In his latest interview, Harrison said he asked for his release three times, the first was before the start of the season when he was relegated to a reserve role.