One would think that a 41-7 victory over the Denver Broncos would be a cause for celebration. And normally it would be. But on this nite the New England Patriots lost one of their captains. Not just for the season, but likely for good.
At age 35, and with injuries highlighting his last few season, it is unlikely that Rodney Harrison will be back on the football field again. For the Patriots, they lose the man who set the tone for the secondary – he gave it teeth. He also kept the players grounded and accountable for their jobs. On the field, he was the general for the safeties and corners – but still ever willing to take on a running back and deliver a hit.
Despite being voted the “dirtiest player” in the league, Harrison nonetheless is the only player to ever record 30 sacks and 30 interceptions. Whatever his vices on the field may have been, he always backed up his talk with his performance. And despite his reputation, the New England fans love Rodney. Not because he plays dirty, but because he’s smart, articulate, funny, hard-working, and makes things happen on the field.
One could argue that this was a bad way for him to end his career. But I don’t think so. With Brady falling to injury in the first game of the season, the odds of the Patriots getting back to the SuperBowl are slim this year. Harrison’s contract is also up at the end of the season and age has visibly started to take a toll on his ability to compete. Physically at least – mentally he’s as sharp as ever, and still made game-changing plays to the end. So, given the option of falling on the Field of Battle to being told “you’re too old to play” when it comes time to renew his contract, I think succumbing to an in-game injury – especially in what turned out to be a great win for the team – is the best way for Rodney Harrison to put the final punctuation on his illustrious carreer.
Rodney Harrison will be missed in New England. While he wasn’t with the team as long as, say, Troy Brown he left an indelible impression on the fans, on the franchise, and on the league. Players like Harrison don’t come around often – Patriots fans are indeed blessed to have been able to watch him play probably his best football for New England.