The Pittsburgh Steelers were disappointing early in the 2021 NFL season. Mike Tomlin’s side are currently at 2-3, which puts them in last place in AFC North. As bad as they look, the Steelers have some positives that give them hope to move forward. Najee Harris has the makings of a future star in Pittsburgh.
The talent of the rookie running back on the pitch matches his character.
Najee Harris shows flashes in rookie season with Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers hit the lottery when they clinched Najee Harris in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. They took the Alabama running back with the No. 24 overall pick, which may end up being a good deal when all is said and done.
Harris carried the ball 78 times for 307 yards and two touchdowns in the first five games. He also caught 28 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown.
The Steelers offensive line struggled early in the season, limiting Harris’ productivity in calculating stats. Problems in the offensive line, along with the declining performance of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, have so far held back Pittsburgh’s offense in 2021.
Harris, an All-American consensus with the Crimson Tide, is a versatile running back. His powerful running style and dynamic ability as a receiver out of the backfield make him a difficult player to stop.
Harris shares special bond with 9-year-old
Najee Harris is an impact player on the grill, but he’s also making his presence felt beyond the grill.
The Alabama product has developed an unlikely bond with a nine-year-old named Braxton Weidman. Braxton and his parents, Brandie and Chris Weidman, are from Birmingham, Alabama, and are huge Crimson Tide football fans.
Doctors diagnosed Braxton with stage 4 cancer in 2020, per Athleticism.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, learned of Braxton’s situation and set up a meeting with the Weidmans. Braxton’s favorite Crimson Tide players were Harris and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.
Harris wrote a video message and sent it to Braxton during the week of his surgery. In return, the then-eight-year-old asked the star to score a touchdown against Ole Miss. Harris responded with five scores.
“He was really depressed,” Chris Weidman said. “All those guys from Alabama and Coach Saban, that got him out of there, and he’s been tough ever since, really.”
The Weidmans have followed Harris into the NFL, and they want him to succeed with the Steelers.
Najee Harris is the cornerstone of the Steelers’ future
Najee Harris knows how important it is to have a support system in life. The Martinez, Calif., Native is a strong young man in his own right.
When Harris was in college, his family spent time in homeless shelters and even slept in their cars. “Everywhere I went, the community always helped me, helped me stay out of trouble, helped me put food on the table, took me when I didn’t have a merry-go-round” , did he declare.
The Steelers rookie struggled through adversity in his personal life, then paid it to Braxton Weidman. Pittsburgh is known as a city of blue collar workers, and the residents have adopted Harris as one of their own.
The Steelers franchise has a long history. Fans have come to expect greatness. It’s a far cry from what the team put on the pitch in 2021, but there should be some light at the end of the tunnel.
If the front office plays well, it will be built around Najee Harris. He was the best running back in the draft. Now they have to work on fixing the offensive line and replacing Big Ben as quarterback.
If the flashes Harris showed turn into much more, Pittsburgh can go back to the old days of shattering football.
All statistics are courtesy of Professional football benchmark
RELATED: Terry Bradshaw calls out his Pittsburgh Steelers for not building the squad properly: “Put Ben in Tampa Bay, he sack him”