For the cornerback, born 1981, see Michael Harden.
Mike Harden
No. 31, 45     
Personal information
Date of birth: (1959-02-16) February 16, 1959 (age 61)
Place of birth: Memphis, Tennessee
Career information
College: Michigan
NFL Draft: 1980 / Round: 5 / Pick: 131
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
* Denver Broncos ( 1980)
Career highlights and awards
Games     158
Interceptions     38
Fumble recoveries     14

Michael Harden (born February 16, 1959) is a former American football player. He played college football as a defensive back for the University of Michigan from 1977 to 1979. He then played professional football in the National Football League (NFL) for 11 years as a defensive back for the Denver Broncos from 1980 to 1988 and for the Los Angeles Raiders from 1989 to 1990.

Early yearsEdit

Harden was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1959. He attended Central High School in Detroit.[1]

University of MichiganEdit

Harden enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1976 and played college football as a defensive back for Bo Schembechler's Michigan Wolverines football teams from 1976 to 1979.[2] In September 1978, Harden and Jerry Meter both intercepted passes thrown by Joe Montana to help secure a 28–14 victory over Notre Dame.[3] He was selected as a first-team defensive back on the 1978 All-Big Ten Conference football team.[4] Over the course of his collegiate career, Harden had 89 tackles, 42 assists, six interceptions and 95 return yards, 16 pass breakups, and three fumble recoveries. Harden also returned 24 punts for 156 yards.[5]

Professional footballEdit

Harden was selected by the Denver Broncos in the fifth round (131st overall pick) of the 1980 NFL Draft.[1] He appeared in 128 games, 98 as a starter, at the safety and cornerback positions for the Broncos from 1980 to 1988.[1][6] He intercepted 33 passes in his nine years with the Broncos.[1]

Harden was fined $5,000 for a hit in the opening game of the 1988 season against division rival Seattle Seahawks that knocked out Steve Largent and resulted in a concussion and the loss of two teeth.[7] Fourteen weeks later, in Seattle, Harden intercepted a Dave Krieg pass in the end zone and returned it twenty-five yards before being knocked off his feet by Largent and fumbling the football, which Largent also pounced on, giving the Seahawks possession again. Largent later said in an interview that the hit was retaliation in part for the hit that Harden gave Largent earlier in the season.[8][9][10]

Harden concluded his career with the Los Angeles Raiders during the 1989 and 1990 seasons.[1] During his 11-year NFL career, he intercepted 38 passes for 663 yards and four touchdowns, and recovered 14 fumbles. As of 2017, his 179 interception return yards in 1986 is a Broncos record. On special teams, Harden returned eight punts for 113 yards and a touchdown and returned 26 kickoffs for 414 yards.[11]

Post FootballEdit

Harden was sentenced to six years in prison in June 2002 for theft and fraud. He stole more than $64,000 in cash, forged checks, and opened several credit cards in his name and in the names of people he was acquainted with. [12][13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Mike Harden". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
  2. "Michigan Football Roster Database". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  3. "Michigan's Second-Half Spurt Beats Irish". Ocala Star-Banner: p. 2C. September 24, 1978.,6799852.
  4. "Michigan, Michigan State Dominate All-Big Ten Team". The Hour, Norwalk, Connecticut: p. 27. November 29, 1978.,6789896.
  5. "Michigan Football Statistic Archive Query Page". University of Michigan. Archived from the original on 2007-11-12.
  6. Adam Schrager (November 6, 1986). "Ex-Wolverine Sparks Bronco Secondary: A Harden-Fast Safety". The Michigan Daily: p. 9.,3212660.
  7. "Broncos' Harden Fined $5,000". Ocala Star-Banner: p. 2D. September 25, 1988.,5928171.
  8. Q & A with Steve Largent,, October 1, 2002.
  9. Video of Largent hit, "YouTube", March 11, 2009.
  10. "Largent on future". Spokane Chronicle: p. C1. December 12, 1988.,1631818.
  11. "Ex-NFLer Mike Harden jailed six years". CBC Sports. 1 July 2002. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.