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Q&A Mark Harmon
Richard Deitsch
May 15, 2006
The 54-year-old actor stars on the CBS drama NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service
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May 15, 2006

Q&a Mark Harmon

The 54-year-old actor stars on the CBS drama NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service

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SI: Your father, Tom Harmon, won the 1940 Heisman for Michigan, and you were UCLA's starting quarterback (below) for two seasons. There's a headline in the Sept. 18, 1972, SI, after UCLA beat Nebraska, that says YOUNG HARMON MAKES HIS MARK. Do people nowadays tend to forget about your football connections?

Harmon: I remember all the trips I took to the L.A. Coliseum with my dad when he was broadcasting games. I used to look at that players' tunnel and say, "Someday, I would love to come out of there as a player." In this day and age a lot of people don't know that I played, or they would be surprised to hear it. That's O.K. It means I have progressed.

SI: Barry Switzer tried to persuade you to play for Oklahoma. What was his recruiting pitch?

Harmon: He said, "You come here next year, and we're going to win the national championship. And if you don't come here next year, we're going to win the national championship." [Laughs.]

SI: You and Denzel Washington were on St. Elsewhere together. What do you recall about his athletic abilities?

Harmon: Denzel knew where he was heading from the beginning. We were both once invited to do Battle of the Network Stars. We both wanted to do it initially, but then Denzel said, "Movie stars don't do Battle of the Network Stars, and I'm not doing it." I was like, "Well, I can build a wall in front of my house with the money [from the show]." He was always a good guy and a terrific actor. And he had a pretty good jump shot.

SI: When did you first realize the impact your dad had in sports?

Harmon: I knew that early from the kids in the park. The school put together a 16-millimeter highlight reel of all 33 touchdowns he scored at Michigan. You would be awestruck. He dominates. On this film he scored a touchdown every time he touched the ball. I think I was 10 years old before I knew my dad had ever been tackled.

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