In 2014, former New England Patriots’ and San Diego Chargers’ defensive back Rodney Harrison will be eligible to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Does Harrison deserve a call to the Hall?
Harrison is an example of diamond in the rough. Coming out of Western Illinois in 1994, he was a fifth-round draft pick of the Chargers in the 1994 NFL Draft. He stayed with the Chargers until 2002.
In his eight seasons with San Diego, he was given two Pro Bowl selections and made two All-Pro teams in 1998 and 2001. He helped the Chargers to an AFC Championship and Super Bowl birth in 1994. They eventually lost the NFL championship to the San Francisco 49ers.
Following the 2002 season, Harrison was released by the Chargers. Six weeks later, he was signed by the Patriots with the hopes of him teaming up with Pro Bowl defensive back Lawyer Milloy. Due to contract disputes, Milloy was released by the Patriots in September of 2003.
However, that did not deter Harrison. He went on to become who Patriots head coach Bill Belichick called one of the best players he had ever coached. Harrison helped lead one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2003 and 2004 while also helping lead the Patriots to back-to-back Super Bowl victories.
Between 2005 and 2008, Harrison’s career became riddled with injuries. He suffered a knee injury early in the season which forced him to miss the entire season, missed six games in 2006 due to a shoulder injury and missed the remainder of that season after injuring his right knee in the weeks following his return.
The end of Harrison’s career in the NFL ended in controversy. In 2007, Harrison admitted that he knowingly took human growth hormone (HGH) and claimed that he did it to help him recover from injuries. Federal agents and Harrison himself also said that he received a shipment of HGH prior to Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.
His final season in the league, 2008, almost ended in a storybook ending. After leading the Patriots defense, and team, to an undefeated 18-0 record and Super Bowl berth against the New York Giants, Harrison gave up the memorable “helmet-catch” to receiver David Tyree which setup the Giants go-ahead and game-winning touchdown.
Harrison’s career in the NFL was rough, to say the least, and was filled with controversy. On numerous occasions, Harrison was voted the leagues’ dirtiest player in an anonymous athlete-only Sports Illustrated polls and was voted the leagues’ dirtiest player in an anonymous coaches-only ESPN poll.
When the voters gather to vote for the 2014 Hall of Fame class, Rodney Harrison should not make the cut. A player that has admitted to using HGH should not receive induction into their sport’s Hall of Fame. While Harrison was one of the most feared and respected safeties to ever play the game, he cheated and should not be given the honor of the Hall of Fame.
Football should follow in the steps of baseball. If a player is found to have been using HGH, PED’s or steroids, whether they are not allowed in by rule or not, the voters should still keep them out of the Hall of Fame.