FOXBORO — Former New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison was a crucial piece to the first of two halves in the never-ending Patriot dynasty.
Now he has been inducted into the Patriots’ Hall of Fame.
“It was a pretty special moment,” Harrison told the media during a conference call on Monday after being voted into the franchise’s Hall of Fame by the fans last Thursday. “It’s very humbling. It’s to the point where I’m still sitting here as I’m talking to you kind of shaking because I didn’t think it was going to happen this year. It kind of took me by surprise.”
Harrison was one of three former Patriots’ finalists this year, along with defensive lineman Richard Seymour and linebacker Mike Vrabel. Harrison said that he thought Seymour and Vrabel would be wearing the red jacket before he did, but when the surprise was over, the excitement set in.
Harrison said the fan vote made it all the more meaningful for him, coming from those who got a chance to see him play week after week.
“They’re going by all the blood and everything that I poured my heart out on that field,” Harrison said. “The fans knew that I loved football. I gave everything for the organization, for my teammates and for the fans and my family.”
Harrison helped the Patriots win back-to-back Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004, his first two seasons with the team. He becomes the seventh player from those championship teams to be selected into the Hall, joining Troy Brown (2012), Tedy Bruschi (2013), Ty Law (2014), Willie McGinest (2015), Kevin Faulk (2016) and Matt Light (2018).
Currently a color commentator for NBC Sunday Night Football, Harrison played the final six seasons of his 15-year career in New England after spending the first nine with the San Diego Chargers. He was named a team captain in each of his six seasons with the team.
Harrison came through in the clutch with seven interceptions in nine postseason games with the Patriots, including two interceptions in Super Bowl XXXIX victory over Philadelphia. His seven postseason interceptions are tied for the third-most in NFL postseason history and his four in the 2004 playoffs are tied for third-most in a single postseason.
In his first two seasons with the Patriots, Harrison not only was the team’s leading tackler, but also led all defensive backs in tackles each year. He was the Patriots’ leading tackler in the 2003 and 2004 postseasons as well.
Harrison is the only defensive back in NFL history with 30 sacks and 30 interceptions, with eight of those picks coming during his Patriots career. Harrison credited coach Bill Belichick for becoming the player he did in New England.
“I think Coach Belichick was the first coach to really utilize me the way I’ve always wanted to be utilized,” Harrison said. “He wanted me to do more and I wanted to do more. He challenged me and he pushed me to do more and learn more and it was great. That’s what the Patriots are about. They’re about getting guys that are passionate, that are smart, that are team-only guys, that can play multiple positions and that’s what Coach Belichick builds and that’s why when one guy goes down, we can get another guy to step up.”
Sean McGuire is a sports writer with the Sun Chronicle and the Foxboro Reporter and can be followed on Twitter at @BySeanMcGuire.