PITTSBURGH -- The text messages bounced from old friend to old friend last week, from state to state, sharing the news that Mo Tipton had passed away.
When the news reached Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, he had one immediate memory of his former coach at Coventry High School in Akron, Ohio.
"Coach Tipton was the first guy that ever said one day I'd be playing NFL ball," Harrison said.
Harrison, who was barely 16 and had never played a high school varsity game at the time, shot a sneer at Tipton upon hearing his coach's bold declaration.
"I think he was just giving me a pep talk," Harrison recalled. "I didn't believe it all."
Now, it all really is hard to believe. James Harrison, dumped and dismissed so many times, a guy too short at 6-foot with too short of a temper, ended up proving his coach right. The Steelers, who cut Harrison three times in 13 months in 2002-03, have reaped the rewards of calling him back the fourth time 10 months later.
Harrison returned ...