James Harrison’s two young sons recently received “participation trophies” for athletics. That didn’t sit well with their father, an NFL linebacker and two-time Super Bowl champion, who expressed his frustration Saturday on social media.
“While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy,” the 37-year-old member of the Pittsburg Steelers wrote in an Instagram post. “I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned.”
The accompanying photo, which has been “liked” more than 7,600 times as of Sunday, shows two “2015 Best of the Batch Next Level Athletics Student-Athlete” awards. They were apparently presented to Harrison’s elementary-school-age sons.
“I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best,” the five-time Pro Bowler continued, adding, “(because) sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy.”
The statement ends with the hashtag “#harrisonfamilyvalues.”
The post quickly went viral, generating more than 900 comments in less than 24 hours. Many were supportive.
“Thank you for speaking up and out. This is an epidemic,” wrote one commenter. Another thanked Harrison for “not encouraging entitlement and mediocrity.”
Among his many accomplishments since entering the NFL in 2002, Harrison holds the record for the longest interception — 100 yards — in Super Bowl history.
After the Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in that 2009 championship game, Harrison generated headlines by declining to join his team in accepting President Barack Obama’s invitation to the White House.
“This is how I feel: If you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don’t win the Super Bowl,” he said at the time. “As far as I’m concerned, (Obama) would’ve invited Arizona if they had won.”
Three years earlier, Harrison also turned down President George W. Bush’s invitation after the Steelers won Super Bowl XL.