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At age 37, James Harrison thinks he can play many more years

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 28: James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field on December 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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At age 37, Steelers linebacker James Harrison has already retired once and is among the NFL’s oldest players. But he thinks he has a long time to go.

Harrison says he’s in great shape heading into his 13th NFL season and thinks he can still be a starter in his late 30s -- and a solid contributor long after that.

“Nobody wants to be in a backup role,” Harrison told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “If that’s your mentality, then you’re not in the right sport. Everybody wants to start, but we all have roles to play. I think I can play more than 25 snaps a game when I’m 50.”

Obviously, that’s not going to happen. But Harrison, who has always taken good care of himself physically, says he’s actually in better shape than he was a year ago, when he had a solid season for the Steelers after coming out of a brief retirement.

“I feel good, and I’m in a far better position than I was last year,” Harrison said. “I’m certainly in better shape. I can hit the ground running. My mindset is a little different [than last year] because I’m actually into football. Last year, it was just about working out. It’s about football conditioning now.”

Harrison’s football conditioning is good enough that he might just do something that only Clay Matthews Jr. and Junior Seau have done before: Play linebacker in the NFL after turning 40.