?Holding: "The most embarrassing thing in the world is getting beat. I refuse to get beat, no matter what it takes. I once broke my leg by leg-whipping a guy, so I don't do that anymore. But I will grab some cloth. I probably get caught one out of every seven times."
The 34-year-old Harrah is getting ready for the day he relinquishes his role as team leader. That's one reason that he's so close to second-year quarterback Jim Everett, who seems to be heir apparent and whom Harrah calls "a good kid, not a punk, somebody with respect for the veterans." Harrah knew they would get along when Everett, in his first week with the club, asked to come along with Harrah and his buddies for a few beers. "And I'll buy," said the rookie. That iced it.
When Harrah joined the Rams in 1975, he was ready to make up for every drop of fun he had ever missed. "I didn't have any friends as a kid," says Dennis, the son of a Charleston plant worker. "I wasn't very cool. Every time I caught up to hip, hip had left town. All I wanted was to fit in. Maybe I was making up for lost time."
That first year he moved to the beach at Belmont Shore, Long Beach's singles area and "tried his best never to get cheated out of any fun," says Bolinger. He lived with actress (and erstwhile Rams cheerleader) Jenilee Harrison, formerly of Dallas—the show, not the team. He got into fights, one while he was watching the Super Bowl in a bar with Nick Nolte. He and a partner opened Legends, a sports saloon that became one of the most copied and profitable in the country. Harrah is said to almost match his $345,000 base salary with the Rams with what he makes from Legends. This may be partly due to the fact that after every game Harrah runs around putting a LEGENDS cap on any teammate doing a TV interview.
Herc slowed down only to sleep, eat and play football. "My wife sat next to whoever Denny invited to the games," says Bolinger. "She says if there had been 16 games in a year, she'd have sat next to 16 different girls."
Harrah's response: "Why, of course. Girls should be like a good pitching staff. You've got to rotate 'em."
The world was his oyster and the man was swallowing it whole. Or was it the other way around? "I'm a chameleon," he will say of stories about his bachelor life on the beach. "If I'm in bad surroundings, I'll be bad."
Harrah won't say if bad included too much liquor, too many drugs, too many women, or all three. "Put it this way," he says: "In my life, I didn't turn down much." Or put it this way: "You don't know what fire is until you get burned." Or: "I was on a different road, going no-where. I was on the fun road. But fun turns into a problem when you have no control over it."
Harrah will not expound on any of those vices now. "I'll admit to a lot of things, but I won't talk about them," he says. "There are a lot of things in my past I've shredded, and I'm not about to tell Congress.... All I'll say is that through it all my mama and daddy have never stopped loving me."
Everything started changing when he and Harrison broke up in 1985. They had lived together for more than a year and were a famous enough item to make it into PEOPLE as well as
The National Enquirer
(which, by the way, counts Herc among its devotees—"I love to read about those boys that take rides in UFOs," he says). Eventually they separated and she began dating Reggie Jackson. "Jenilee was great," says Herc. "But we seemed to be at two different ends of the spectrum. She didn't want a house and a dog and a porch. She was into show business 125 percent."