Rodney Harrison sounds like he doesn't want to hear the "dirty" player label that has defined his 15-year career.
Granted, Harrison is renown for his helmet-to-helmet hits, the thousands of dollars he coughed up as a punishment for a big hit, or the late hit and unnecessary roughness penalties.
His excuse for the way he played was because of the sport he was very passionate about.
Here's what Harrison had to say at his retirement press conference in regards to his approach towards football:
“People have called me a dirty player. I’m a very passionate player,” Harrison said. “I also understand that this is not volleyball. This is a very violent, physical game, and if you hit someone in the mouth, they’re not going to be your friend. That’s what the game of football is.”
Of course, no one is going to be your friend if you hit them in the mouth, Rodney, you hit some of them after the whistle was blown, or when they weren't looking!
But in all honesty, I actually admired the career of Rodney Harrison.
Yes, he may be a "dirty" player, but he was one of the few guys you can count on when you needed players going full speed on the field.
Not once did I see Harrison take a play off, not once did teammates accuse him for playing scared, and not once did teammates or coaches complain about him.
Harrison was the guy you can rely on when you needed aggression. Even on a San Diego Chargers team that went 1-15 in 2000, Harrison was one of the few players playing his heart out when times were tough.
The Patriots took a risk by signing the hard-hitting but thousand-dollar-fine-prone Harrison to help upgrade the secondary in 2003.
Harrison not only brought big hits to the secondary; he also helped bring back-to-back Lombardi Trophies for the Pats.
There were even some unexpected hits delivered on Harrison during his Patriots career: An ACL injury in 2005 and testing positive for HGH.
Yet through his "dirty" play, injuries and illegal supplement use, coach Bill Belichick called Harrison one of the best players he ever coached through this statement:
“In the biggest games, in any situation and on a weekly basis, his production was phenomenal,” Belichick said. “Rodney embodies all the attributes coaches seek and appreciate: toughness, competitiveness, leadership, selflessness, hard work, intensity, professionalism—and coming from Rodney, they are contagious.”
Harrison finishes his 15-year career with 1,198 tackles, 30.5 sacks, 34 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, two touchdowns, and two Super Bowl rings.
He may be considered "dirty," but he was very passionate and showed toughness throughout his career. He was clearly a football player, not a volleyball player, because of the way he played.
Chargers, Patriots, or Rodney Harrison fans in general will remember him for being dirty, but passionate.