Rodney Harrison Retires After 15-Year NFL Career

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IJune 4, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 17:  Safety Rodney Harrison #37 of the New England Patriots reacts during the game against the New York Jets on September 17, 2006 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Fifteen years and $300,000 in fines later, safety Rodney Harrison finally hung up the pads on Wednesday.

He retired with the distinction as the only member of the 30/30 club, having registered over 30 sacks and 30 interceptions in his illustrious, hard-hitting career.

Some of his opponents have said Harrison is the dirtiest player in the NFL. His teammates, however, would say he’s the most passionate guy they’ve ever seen suit up.

From the helmet-to-helmet hit on Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice, to being on the receiving end of the Helmet Catch by David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII, Harrison’s career has been full of highs and lows, hits and misses, success and failure.

Does it make him long for a return? Does it make him ponder sparking a Favre-like saga?

“I don’t want guys on my team or guys I played with to have to answer questions about Rodney Harrison’s return," Harrison said Wednesday. "When I made my decision to retire, I made my decision to retire.”

Sounds much more definitive to me than, “I know I can still play, but I don’t think I want to,” from Brett Favre circa summer 2008.

In Harrison, the Patriots had a heavy hitter who could instill a sense of determination in his peers with the aggressive hits he laced onto his opponents.

With Harrison’s retirement, the longest-tenured Patriot in the defensive backfield is free safety James Sanders, who has been with the team four years. Next to him is strong safety Brandon Meriweather, a Patriot for two years since being drafted out of Miami in the first round.

With the amount of time Harrison missed over the past four seasons (he played 31 of a possible 64 games), it may not seem like a tough task to replace Harrison. Replacing 30.5 career sacks and 34 career interceptions will be, though. His veteran leadership will sorely be missed, too.

The Patriots have accomplished more with less in the past. Having helped themselves to a feast of youth and speed in the draft, I’m sure the Patriots will find a way to succeed in Harrison’s absence.