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.187 and Rodney Harrison

By Patriots Blog Writer Doug Cutler Jr.


First, another quick word about the person masquerading as a DH in Boston

His average is now a potent .187.

Think about that. Even if he was hitting .100 points higher than he is now, he’d still be on the low side for what DHs are supposed to produce at the plate.

“The best I ever saw”

The best safety I ever saw in a Patriots uniform was Rodney Harrison. Much like last week’s highlighted player, Curtis Martin, this isn’t even close. There really isn’t anyone in the same league as Harrison at this position. For perspective, I go back to the mid eighties when Fred Marion and Roland James roamed the defensive backfield. Those guys were good, but not nearly “good” enough to compete with the recently retired #37. Some might say Lawyer Milloy should be in the conversation and that’s fine, so there he is and that’s as far as he goes in this discussion because he was no Rodney Harrison.

The things that set Rodney apart from the other defensive backs before and during his tenure with the New England Patriots are numerous. First, he was clearly a difference maker in that even a casual observer could see the higher level of play and intensity from the entire defense when he arrived. It was said of him many times that Rodney’s work ethic and enthusiasm rubbed off on his teammates. Sometimes, they said, it was voluntary on their part and sometimes it wasn’t. In short, Rodney couldn’t tolerate mediocrity or apathy and if you were afflicted with either he made sure you worked to overcome it.

Second, excellence is always going to attract attention and both Rodney’s style of play and the results of that play attracted plenty during his fifteen years in the NFL. Whether it was being recognized as the dirtiest player in the league (on multiple occasions) or becoming the first player in history to record both 30 sacks and 30 interceptions, his was a career full of firsts, “mosts,” and “bests.” Let us not forget his four Super Bowl appearances and two world championships, either.

As is the case in other instances and occupations, timing is everything and Rodney brought crisp, unrelenting timing to the position of safety. As a former college safety myself, I know that the two most important physical traits a safety must have are vision and closing speed because without them, a player cannot reap the necessary rewards of precision timing. Rodney had vision and closing speed in spades. He knew that the best way to hit the receiver is to see the play develop, determine where the ball is going and then arrive at the receiver’s train station the very instant the ball does. It goes without saying that he understood it was always better to show up with a sledge hammer, too. That is zone coverage done right and we were treated to this week in and week out with Rodney. He knew that one second too early or one second too late were unacceptable.

Of course, the debate over Rodney’s hall of fame credentials begins in earnest now and in my opinion any way you look at the subject, he fits the criteria. He had longevity, he had championships, he had the respect (and fear) of his colleagues, he had exclusivity in performance-related statistics, and he was most certainly a singularly dominant player at his position for his era. Rodney Harrison belongs with the greats because he was one of them.

Thank you for sustained greatness, Mr. Harrison.

Interesting statistic I’ll bet you didn’t know

Harrison is the first player in NFL history to score touchdowns on an interception return, fumble return, and kickoff return in the same season (1997).

Answer to last week’s question:

The Patriots pulled up the old Astroturf surface before the 1991 season and replaced it with natural grass.

Question of the week:

What was among the first things Harrison did after signing with the Patriots that raised the ire of his teammates?

Hint: It happened during practice.

(Answer will be provided next week)

1 comment:

  1. You are so right about David Ortiz even though he's finally coming back a little. I'm not sure if Rodney has that same effect on me, he is the last great one in our recent memory, and his tenure was longer than I thought it'd be....he was pretty darn good wasn't he. 1991 seems so long ago doesn't