Najee Harris Is No Stranger to Criticism
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Najee Harris was asked about facing adversity and criticism after the black and gold stumbled to a 1-3 record to start the 2021 season and the first-round back didn't disappoint in his answer.
"We got some criticism at Alabama. We lost those two games that one year," Harris said. "We got some criticism though. Like I said last time, 'I'm a good enough man to accept the good and a better man to accept the bad.' The criticism stuff, it's going to come with the sport. I kinda look away and just try to figure out what to get better at and, hopefully, everything goes into us coming out victorious."
Harris jokingly referred to the 2019 season when Alabama finished a woeful 11-2, thanks in large part to the injuries sustained by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Of course, Harris's jokes are laced with truth. Losses aren't acceptable in Tuscaloosa, even if injuries play a massive role. Certain circles of the fanbase surely were critical of the Crimson Tide's finish to what began as a championship hopeful season.
Harris played well that year, though. rushing 209 times for 1,224 yards and 13 touchdowns with 27 receptions for 304 yards and seven touchdowns through the air.
Ironically, when the Steelers lose its next game, that fourth loss will be the same number of losses Harris endured with the Crimson Tide. Harris joined Alabama in 2017 and over his four seasons accumulated a wildly impressive 51-4 record.
The Steelers, who play the 3-1 Denver Broncos this Sunday, Harris could have to face the same number of losses he's felt in five weeks as he did in four years of college play. Factor in the Steelers early struggles with the team having the toughest schedule in the NFL and he could lose those four games a few times over.
For what it's worth, though, Harris isn't part of the problem in Pittsburgh. His 27 broken tackles lead the NFL, however, he's also being hit behind the line of scrimmage far more often than any one running back should ever have to deal with.
Still, he leads all rookies in scrimmage yards (363) and receptions (26.) Still, Harris only has 185 rushing yards through four games, which isn't exactly what the worst rushing offense in 2020 was expecting when the Steelers used the 24th overall selection on the Tide's all-time leading rusher.
“Every week we’re getting better,” he said. “Last week was probably one of our better weeks in the run game. We’re all just learning, and slowly getting there. But I feel confident in the line and what they do.”
The flashes are there, and with criticism fanning the flames of his motivation, it won't be long before Harris is helping the Steelers stack wins instead of losses.