Highlights from Rodney Harrison’s conference call with media members this morning:
As part of his opening statement, Harrison reflected on how he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers 15 years ago. “I had the opportunity and privilege to play in this league for a long time, but today, I am very proud and very excited to announce my retirement from the NFL. … All in all, I’ve done everything I could possibly do on the field. I feel like I have nothing else to prove.” Harrison talked about the “ups and downs” he went through as a player, and how they helped shape the person he is today, mentioning his suspension for HGH as a low point and "huge mistake." He said it was important to him to be able to walk away from the game.
Harrison did not detail his plans for retirement, other than spending time with his family and playing golf. That seemed to be out of respect to NBC, which will announce him as part of their broadcast team today (noon).
On if we could see a Favre-like return: “Never. Never. For me, that’s a very thin line and a sensitive issue. I don’t want guys on my team, or guys I played with, to have to answer questions about Rodney Harrison’s return. When I made my decision to retire, I made my decision to retire. I just thought it would be very disrespectful of me to come back and forth and not make my decision. That’s why I said June 1 was my date. So now, being fair to my teammates, being fair to the organization I played and coaches I played for, I wanted to make that concrete decision and not have my teammates have to deal with it. I never want to be a distraction. … Like I said in my statement, I’m done. I’m very much so at peace with that.”
Among those Harrison thanked included Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick, whom he said gave him a “second lease” on his NFL life. He also thanked Junior Seau, calling him “the single most influential person in my football career.”
Harrison re-told the story of how he wound up in New England, with the Patriots calling as he was sitting across from Raiders owner Al Davis on a free-agent visit. He received a call from then Broncos coach Mike Shanahan at the time, and then Bill Belichick called and quickly arranged a flight for Harrison, who left 85 degree weather in shorts for the frigid New England winter. “I ended up in New England at 6 a.m., and I was in Belichick’s office at 8:30, and we were trying to work out a contract an hour or two later,” he said.
Harrison said about 4 or 5 teams expressed interest in signing him to play this season, but “after a while, I got home, started spending time with my kids, and I started realizing there is a point in time when you need to walk away. Football was no longer the priority. Golf was the priority (edited to say "golf", 3 p.m.). Family was the priority. I really didn’t have that fire any more.”