(Photos courtesy of the New England Patriots/David Silverman)
Talk of Fame Network
Rodney Harrison has been eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame the past two years, but he hasn't been a finalist. Not yet, anyway ... and that won't be easy.
Reason: Look at the position he played: There are only seven pure safeties in the Hall, and the last one to play was Kenny Houston. That was 1980, which means there hasn’t been a safety who played in the past 34 years that has been inducted -- and Harrison doesn’t get it.
More than that, he doesn’t get what the Hall’s board of selectors misses on him – something he made abundantly clear as a guest on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
“I don’t think about the (Pro) Football Hall of Fame,” said Harrison, a fifth-round choice on our Countdown to the Draft. “I respect the people … all the sportswriters and all the people that have an opportunity to vote ... but, man, are you kidding? To me, if there’s any doubt that I’m not one of the best safeties to play this game, then a lot of people don’t know what they’re talking about. All you have to do is go watch the tape.
“Playing in San Diego (1994-2002) hurt me because I played all the way on the West Coast. I played on a lot of bad teams. I played on a couple of good teams out there, and to see what I’ve done in Super Bowls and in playoffs with the New England Patriots -- and regular season -- and not even be considered a Pro Bowler (he was an All-Pro, but never a Pro Bowler with the Patriots) when these safeties now are absolute garbage. They couldn’t hold our jocks. Guys getting paid so much money now that wouldn’t even be a starter; wouldn’t even be in our rotation at the position.
“It’s a joke. It’s an absolute joke. The safety position has evolved. You got guys like Troy Polamalu, who was the heart and soul of his team for such a long team. You look at Eric Weddle. He’s San Diego’s best defensive player. The safety position is different now than what it was. I think the safety position just isn’t respected. The fans and the sportswriters a lot of times don’t really feel the passion that I feel.”
Harrison, now an analyst on NBC’s Football in America broadcast, said he feels more safeties – including himself – are deserving of Hall-of-Fame attention, with former Baltimore star Ed Reed leading the parade.
“(He) was probably the best pure free safety out there,” he said, “a guy who could make plays on the ball. I think Troy was a combination of wild, reckless abandon, but he made a difference. In everything that he did he made a difference. (And) you have to give consideration to (former Denver safety) Steve Atwater. People talked about him being a big hitter but (he was) a guy who could tackle in the open field and (was) a tremendous leader.
“It’s funny that you’re talking about the safety position and the Hall of Fame. People ask me about that all the time. The only thing I can control is what I did on the football field. I can’t control if people like me or not.”