Adieu to Sir Rodney, and perhaps Westbrook, plus more Snaps
Brett Favre should take a cue from Rodney Harrison on how to retire
Brian Westbrook may be hitting the 30-year-old running back wall
More on Michael Vick, Vince Young and a Bucs' coaching trend
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we look forward to those hazy, lazy, hopefully less-crazy days during the ever-so-brief NFL summer...
I've thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to Rodney Harrison throughout his 15-year NFL career, but maybe never more so than I did Wednesday morning as Harrison offered a clear-eyed explanation for walking away from the game.
In an age when players can't say goodbye and mean it -- Brett Favre, Junior Seau and Deion Sanders leap to mind -- it was refreshing to hear Harrison avoid equivocation, self-delusion or any major display of self-aggrandizing while announcing his retirement. We didn't get tears or a big show of emotion. We didn't get a laundry list reading of his career achievements or the opening arguments for his Hall of Fame bid. We got Harrison displaying the good sense to know when enough's enough and sharing his decision with us in his typical, straightforward fashion.
"When I made my decision to retire, I made my decision to retire," Harrison, the former Patriots and Chargers safety, said in a conference call. "I want to walk away from the game. There is a point in time when we all have to walk away from the game, and I just thought it would be very disrespectful for me to come back and forth and not make my decision.
"I am done, and I am very much so at peace with that. Football has been good to me. I respect people in the National Football League enough not to put them on this joy ride -- the back and forth, the ups and downs of am I coming back [or] will I not come back? I am done.''
If that wasn't an anti-Favre shot across the bow, I don't know what in the world would qualify. It makes me eager to hear Harrison in his new role as an NBC studio analyst on Sunday nights, because my experience with him tells me he's not going to be one of those ex-players who sugarcoats his words on TV in order to maintain all his close, personal friendships around the league. Harrison never played with much subtlety, and I don't think he'll tip-toe in analyzing the game either.
I'm not talking about bashing for bashing's sake, but about having something meaningful and thoughtful to say, and being unafraid to say it, no matter whom it might perturb. I've always respected Harrison's penchant for honesty in an NFL locker room setting -- even in New England, where the walls have ears and nothing escapes Big Brother's notice (or someone else with those same initials). He's one of those rare players who just gets it. He understands the game and his place in it. Fifth-round picks, after all, aren't supposed to last 15 seasons in the NFL.
"As a player in the National Football League, it's not about you," Harrison said, expressing a sentiment that, sadly, few players understand. "This is a game where you can get caught up in self-analysis, self-promotion. But it's not about you. It's about giving back along the way and really helping someone along the way, impacting and influencing someone's life. That's the greatest satisfaction I got from playing in the National Football League."
Good luck, Sir Rodney. Here's hoping the world of TV and retirement fit you at least half as well as shoulder pads and a helmet did. And watch out, current NFL players. If you're not careful, Harrison will still be capable of leveling you from the blind side.
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