Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who suffered a season-ending right quadriceps injury on Oct. 20 against the Denver Broncos, hasn't closed the door on returning for either a 16th NFL season or a seventh with the Patriots, but said he hasn't made a decision on whether he wants to play again yet.
"I'm at a point right now where I'm really rehabbing," said Harrison, who is working Super Bowl XLIII as an analyst for NBC Sports and will be part of NBC's Super Bowl pregame show. "I know I can still play and even maybe five years from now I would believe that, where as my body is telling me that you can't.
"Right now, I'm doing a lot better and I can't honestly say if I'm going to play or not right now. I'm up in the air. Right now, I'm focusing on being able to run up and down the bases with my son, so once that's established then I'll decide if I want to play or not."
The 36-year-old safety, whose contract with the Patriots ended after the 2008 season, said that when he does make a decision it will be final.
"There are a lot of things that go on with a guy when he's deciding his future in football. You realize that once you say, 'I'm done.' I'm done," said Harrison. "I don't want the circus. I don't want the back-and-forth circus [of], 'Well, do I want to play? Okay, I'm going to retire; I'm not going to retire.' I don't want the Brett Favre situation.
"I need to be fair to myself, and I need to be fair to my family from a personal standpoint, so when I decide what I want to do I'm going to do it; I'm going to move forward, and I'm going to stick to it. I've been playing football for 30 years. I've done everything. The message I want to convey to young players is do everything you can within your power and you have no regrets. So, if you have to walk away from the game you have no regrets.
"You're going to always love the game. You're going to always have a passion for the game, but if you give everything like I did ... when I was sitting at home watching the playoffs I didn't have any regrets. The only regret I had was that the Patriots weren't in the playoffs. That's the only regret because I know I've given everything to this game, so I have no regrets."
Harrison, who seemed at peace if his playing days have indeed ended, called playing for the Patriots "the greatest football experience of my life" and said he'd certainly take a return to the Patriots into consideration.
"If that door is open, if they want to move forward, if it's something I want to do and Bill [Belichick] allows me to do it then maybe that's the choice. If not, we'll have to look at other things," said Harrison, who is a free agent.
Harrison's close friend, Junior Seau made it clear that at this stage in his career he'd only come back for the Patriots, which he did late in the 2008 season. When asked if his approach to playing again was like Seau's -- Patriots only -- Harrison was noncommittal, but somewhat revealing.
"Well, my situation right now is I'm just focusing on rehabbing and getting healthy and if that opportunity presents itself then I'll have to take a hard look at it, but I'm not opening or closing a door," said Harrison. "I feel like you limit yourself when you close opportunities, but at the same time there's only going to be limited opportunities for myself. That's why you venture off, and you start doing some media stuff, and you see if you like it. If you do, you move forward if you have those opportunities."