Former NFL safety and NBC Sports analyst Rodney Harrison told The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday that he wouldn't hesitate to hit Cam Newton in the knees and "try to hurt him" if he was facing him in the Super Bowl.
"I would go right at his knees. I would try to hurt him. That might be the difference between winning and losing a Super Bowl," Harrison said, via the show's Andrew Perloff.
Harrison added, "That's the only way to discourage a running QB. You have to hit him in the mouth."
When asked about Harrison's comments, Panthers cornerback Josh Norman took a dig at the commentator, saying, "Tell him to ask [former New York Giants wide receiver David] Tyree about that one," via Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. Tyree made his famed "helmet catch" in Super Bowl XLII against Harrison.
Panthers tight end Greg Olson said Harrison's comments were "uncalled for, and I think it's somewhat embarrassing," via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
Harrison's comments are a bit surprising, considering the stance he took against Rams head coach Jeff Fisher in November after Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was knocked out of a game by a late blow to the head from Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner.
On NBC after the game, Harrison recounted a story from 2006 when Titans wide receiver Bobby Wade chop-blocked him at the knees and injured him. Harrison claimed Fisher, the Titans head coach at the time, was smiling at him from the sideline and insinuated that Fisher coached his teams to play dirty.
The 43-year-old Harrison spent 15 years in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots, accumulating 1,198 tackles, 30.5 sacks, 34 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and two-time Associated Press first-team All-NFL selection. He also won two Super Bowls with the Patriots.
Were he still playing, though, it's unlikely Harrison would have much more success slowing down Newton than the rest of the NFL. The Carolina Panthers quarterback registered 3,837 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 636 rushing yards and another 10 scores on the ground during the regular season.
Harrison might not have much recourse beyond hitting the 6'5", 245-pound Newton low to bring him down. That said, chances are Newton, the Panthers and a slew of coaches and players around the league won't take kindly to Harrison's suggestion that he would try to hurt the quarterback.