Rodney Harrison
Rodney Harrison during the Patriots' 2006 training camp.
No. 37     
Personal information
Date of birth: (1972-12-15) December 15, 1972 (age 47)
Place of birth: Markham, Illinois
Career information
College: Western Illinois
NFL Draft: 1994 / Round: 5 / Pick: 145
Debuted in 1994 for the San Diego Chargers
Last played in 2008 for the New England Patriots
Career history
* San Diego Chargers ( 1994 2002)
Career highlights and awards
* 2× Pro Bowl (1998, 2001)
Tackles     1,205
Sacks     30.5
Interceptions     34
Stats at
Stats at

Rodney Scott Harrison (born December 15, 1972) is a retired professional football player of the National Football League. Harrison played safety for the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots. He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and winner of two Super Bowl rings.

Early yearsEdit

Harrison went to high school at Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois. In March 2006, Marian Catholic retired Harrison's #37 jersey,[2] although Harrison never actually wore #37 while in high school. Harrison's varsity numbers were #26 as a sophomore, #11 as a junior and #3 as a senior. Harrison graduated from high school in 1991.

College careerEdit

Harrison played college football at Western Illinois University from 1991 to 1993. He is the school's record-holder for tackles in a career (345) and tackles in a game (28). As a freshman, Harrison was a second-team All-Gateway Football Conference before being named a first-team All-Gateway pick as a sophomore and junior. The Associated Press also named him a second-team All-American as a sophomore and a first-team All-American as a junior.

Professional careerEdit

San Diego ChargersEdit

Harrison was drafted in the fifth round of the 1994 draft, (145th overall) by the San Diego Chargers, the same year they made their only Super Bowl (XXIX) to date, which they lost to the San Francisco 49ers. Harrison became a starting member of the Chargers' 1996 defense, going to two Pro Bowls with the Chargers in 1998 and 2001. He set then-career highs with the Chargers in 2000 with 127 tackles and six interceptions; in 2002 he started 13 games and recorded 88 tackles in his final season with the Chargers.

New England PatriotsEdit


Following the 2002 season, on February 27, 2003, Harrison was released by the Chargers. Two weeks later, on March 13, Harrison landed with the Patriots, signing a six-year deal. At the time, the Patriots had both Harrison and fellow Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy under contract. Throughout the offseason, though, the Patriots and Milloy were involved in contract negotiations, with the Patriots requesting Milloy take a pay cut or be released. Milloy did not comply, and on September 2, he was released.

Prior to the 2003 season, Harrison was named a defensive captain in his first year with the Patriots by his teammates.

On January 10, 2004 in the divisional playoff game against the Tennessee Titans, he intercepted Steve McNair, which set up Antowain Smith's touchdown, as New England would hold on for a 17–14 win. In the AFC Championship Game the next week against the Indianapolis Colts, Harrison intercepted Peyton Manning in the end zone and forced a Marvin Harrison fumble, recovered by teammate Tyrone Poole. Harrison then went on to help the New England Patriots win their second title in three years, against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII, 32–29. He fractured his right arm late in the game, but a Tom Brady-led drive and Adam Vinatieri field goal secured the Patriots' victory. In his 10th year in the league, Harrison earned his first Super Bowl ring.

Harrison was also named to the Associated Press' All-Pro team following a 140-tackle (a 2003 NFL best for a defensive back) and three-sack season in which he started all 16 regular season games.


The 2004 season produced a similar performance. Harrison helped New England's defense finish second in the NFL in scoring for 2004. For the second straight season, Harrison's 138 tackles led all defensive backs in the NFL. Harrison also started all sixteen regular season games for the sixth time in his career, holding together a Patriots secondary that was without Ty Law and Tyrone Poole for the majority of the season.

In the Patriots' divisional playoff game against the Colts, Harrison intercepted Peyton Manning late in the game to end the Colts' last chance. The next week in the AFC Championship, Harrison jumped a Ben Roethlisberger pass and took it 87 yards for a touchdown, helping the Patriots defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 41–27. During the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Harrison got into a verbal feud with Philadelphia Eagles receiver Freddie Mitchell after Mitchell claimed he "had something for Harrison" and did not know the names of the New England secondary.[3] Harrison, in Super Bowl XXXIX, would record seven tackles, a sack, and two interceptions of quarterback Donovan McNabb, despite missing almost an entire quarter due to an injury sustained during the game. The second interception, with ten seconds remaining in the game, preserved a 24–21 Patriot win, ensuring a third championship in four years.


The 2005 season began a string of multiple injuries for the 12th-year safety, with Harrison's season coming to an end on September 25 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he was hit in the knee by a falling Cedrick Wilson and tore the anterior cruciate, medial collateral, and posterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee. Harrison was subsequently placed on the injured reserve list, ending his season.

Slightly over 10 months after his season-ending injury, Harrison returned to Patriots' practice for the first time on August 7, 2006.[4] After sporadic playing time in the preseason, Harrison started the first seven of the Patriots' games in 2006, totaling 23 tackles and one sack. However, while making a tackle on Marvin Harrison against the Colts on November 5, Harrison injured his right shoulder and missed the next six weeks of the season. He returned to the Patriots in week 16, but his season was ended the following week in Tennessee after a low block from Bobby Wade injured his right knee.

Harrison was suspended for the first four games of the 2007 regular season for admitting to federal investigators that he knowingly obtained and used human growth hormone (HGH).[5] Harrison stated to the media that he used "a banned substance" for "accelerating the healing process from injuries [he] sustained playing football," and "never to gain a competitive edge."[6] In addition, according to federal agents and Harrison himself, Harrison received a shipment of HGH, with his name on it, just days before Super Bowl XXXVIII in February 2004.[7]

In 2007, Harrison was also the player whom David Tyree made his historic catch over in Super Bowl XLII, eventually leading to the New York Giants beating the Patriots 17–14. The loss ended the Patriots' hopes of a perfect season, ending their record at 18-1, the one loss coming in the Super Bowl.

Harrison's 2008 season ended early when, in an October 20 game against the Denver Broncos, Harrison tore his right quadriceps femoris muscle on a play, was carted off the field, and placed on injured reserve.[8]


On June 3, 2009, Harrison announced his retirement from football to become an analyst for NBC Sports' Football Night in America.[9] Patriots head coach Bill Belichick soon after called Harrison one of the best players he had ever coached.[10]


Harrison was voted the "dirtiest player" in the NFL by his peers according to a 2004 poll conducted by Sports Illustrated. In 2006, Harrison once again topped the "dirtiest player" voting by 361 other NFL players.[11] In 2008, NFL coaches awarded the title to Harrison in an anonymous poll conducted by ESPN.[12] He has also been fined and suspended multiple times, and as of 2002, had racked up over $200,000 in fines by the NFL. A notable suspension occurred in 2002 after a helmet-to-helmet hit on the Oakland Raiders' Jerry Rice.

Accomplishments and recordsEdit

  • In 1997, he became first player in NFL history to score touchdowns on an interception return, fumble return and kickoff return in same season.
  • He has the most sacks (30.5) of any defensive back in NFL history.
  • He had four interceptions in three games in the 2004-05 playoffs.
  • His seven playoff interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown) are a Patriots team record.
  • He is one of 12 players in the history of the NFL to record at least 20 interceptions and 20 sacks in his career, for which he is well regarded. The other members of this small club are linebackers Tom Jackson, Seth Joyner, Brian Urlacher, Wilber Marshall, William Thomas, Donnie Edwards, London Fletcher and Ray Lewis, safeties LeRoy Butler, Brian Dawkins, Lawyer Milloy and Adrian Wilson, and cornerback Ronde Barber.
  • On October 21, 2007, he became the initial member of the 30/30 Club of players with both 30 interceptions and 30 sacks. He is joined by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.


  2. "M Legends". Marian Catholic High School. 2006-03-26. Retrieved 2007-04-24.
  3. Shapiro, Leonard (2005-01-31). "Patriots Have a Name for Eagles' Mitchell: 'Jerk'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-04-24.
  4. Reiss, Mike (2006-08-07). "Harrison too". Reiss' Pieces. Retrieved 2007-04-24.
  5. "Pats' Harrison to be suspended 4 games for alleged HGH violation". 2007-09-02. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
  6. "Harrison statement". Boston The Point After Blog. 2007-08-31. Retrieved 2007-08-31.
  7. "Harrison report". 2007-09-20. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
  8. Reiss, Mike (2008-10-22). "Spann promoted". Reiss' Pieces. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  9. Reiss, Mike (2009-06-03). "Highlights from Harrison". Reiss' Pieces. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
  10. Reiss, Mike (2009-06-03). "Kraft & Belichick on Rodney Harrison". Reiss' Pieces. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
  11. "Pats' Harrison can't wash hands of dirtiest player label". 2006-10-19. Retrieved 2007-04-24.
  12. Sando, Mike (2008-07-01). "Coaches validate Harrison's rep as NFL's dirtiest player". Retrieved 2008-07-01.

External linksEdit

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