“When you hit someone, you want their mommas to feel it.”
Or this: “If you can’t hit the quarterback, what are you doing out there?”
“I miss Rodney. I wish he was here,” Woods said after New England’s optional workout on Tuesday. “Wherever he’s at, I’m sure he’s going to be great.”
The Patriots had a round of voluntary workouts this week and Harrison was not on the field at Gillette Stadium—or any field, for that matter. The two-time Pro Bowl selection, who worked for the NFL Network and NBC while injured last season, is expected to announce on Wednesday he is retiring to go into broadcasting full-time.
One of the hardest hitters—some say dirtiest—in the history of the NFL, Harrison won two Super Bowls with the Patriots but missed the last 10 games last season after tearing a muscle in his right thigh. Injuries, along with a four-game suspension in 2007 for using a banned substance, limited him to 31 games over the last four seasons.
“You could tell when he came back (after an injury) that he was just happy to be on the field,” Woods said. “You’re not going to find any more Rodney Harrisons. They called him the dirtiest player in the game, but the guy played with a passion.”
Not counting the drug suspension, he has been fined more than $200,000 in his career, including a one-game suspension in 2002 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Oakland’s Jerry Rice(notes) that cost him a game check of $111,764.
Harrison earned his reputation honestly; in poll after poll, opponents voted him the dirtiest player in the league. But his teammates loved him.
Harrison was also a favorite of reporters, who knew he would be available and quotable, win or lose. Before the league announced his suspension on the eve of the 2007 season, Harrison scheduled a conference call and admitted he took a banned substance and apologized for being a poor role model for kids.
Such honestly also served him well as a TV analyst. After going on injured reserve last October, he worked for the NFL Network and on NBC’s Super Bowl coverage.
NBC said Tuesday it will hold a conference call on Wednesday to announce “talent” for the upcoming season. NBC spokesman Brian Walker declined to comment whether Harrison would be joining the network.
Harrison, 36, holds the NFL record for defensive backs with 30 1/2 sacks and, with 34 interceptions, is the only player to have at least 30 of each.
“He’ll be missed, believe me,” Bruschi said.
Woods recalled joining the Patriots’ defense as an undrafted free agent after the team won three Super Bowls in the previous five years and being told by Harrison, “You’ve got to be a dog out there.”
“He’d want you to be a big dog,” Woods said. “But even if you’re a little dog, you’ve got to be a mean little sucker.”