James Harrison defended his move to sign with the New England Patriots, labelling it a "business decision".
A number of Pittsburgh Steelers slammed Harrison for signing with the rival Patriots on Tuesday following his release.
Center Maurkice Pouncey says Harrison "erased his own legacy", while Bud Dupree said it felt like Harrison "went to the Patriots just to spit in coach Tomlin and Mr. Rooney's face".
Harrison, who is the Steelers' all-time leader with 80.5 career sacks and the 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, said Wednesday he "hesitated" and even consulted with former Steelers team-mate and current linebacker coach Joey Porter before making the "business decision".
"I explained the situation to him and he said, 'I'm not going to sit here and tell you not to do something when you're making a business decision'," Harrison told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I made a decision based on what was best for me."
While Pouncey, Dupree and the Steelers' faithful criticised Harrison's decision, the 39-year-old linebacker claims Pittsburgh's planned role for him never materialised.
"I have to assume when they say you're going to get 25 per cent of the snaps and you get 25, safe to say things didn't go as planned," Harrison said. "After the first week of the season, I said to them, 'It's clear you want to play your younger guys and I understand, so why don't you release me?'
"You go on your way and I'll go on mine. They said, 'No, no, no, we got a role for you'."