Unfortunately, Harris retired from the NFL earlier than expected due to the tragic death of his wife.
Tommie Harris loved to play football
Harris is a native of Killeen, Texas, where he was one of the nation’s top defensive high school prospects. After high school, he attended the University of Oklahoma from 2001 to 2003. He started every game as a true freshman and was one of the few Oklahoma players to do so. Harris was named the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year. Throughout his career, at Oklahoma, he was a two-time All-Big 12 selection and was a consensus first-team All-American in 2002 and a unanimous first-team All-American in 2003. As a junior, he won the Lombardi Award as the nation’s best lineman in 2003.
Harris decided to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft. The Bears selected him with the 14th overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft. He had an impressive rookie season. Harris played in all 16 games at the defensive tackle position. He finished with 58 total tackles and 3.5 sacks and finished second in voting for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Harris continued to have success after his rookie season.
During the 2006 season, he had a great start, leading the league with five sacks after four games. He was named NFC Player of the Week twice during the 2006 season and was one of the top defensive players in the league. Toward the end of the season, Harris suffered a knee injury and had to miss the remainder of the season.
Tommie Harris became a fan favorite in Chicago
Harris spent his first seven seasons in the NFL with the Bears. During that time, he developed into a defensive force. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection from 2005 to 2007 and was named second-team All-Pro in 2005. Harris played a big part in the success of the Bears pass rush and run defense. He was very skilled at his size, and offensive linemen had difficulty keeping him in front of them.
Toward the latter part of his career with the Bears, Harris lost his spot in the starting lineup, and his numbers started to drop. In February of 2011, Harris was released by the Bears. As a member of the team, he played in 104 games, recording 213 tackles and 28.5 sacks. He signed with the San Diego Chargers in September of 2011 and played in 13 games. That was his last season playing football.
The tragic death of Tommie Harris’ wife
Tommie and Ashley Harris got married in January of 2012, a few months after Ashley gave birth to their second child. Nearly a month after they’ve been married, Tommie received some devastating news. On February 12, 2012, Ashley died due to an unexplained brain aneurysm. It was tough for Tommie and his family to deal with it.
Tommie decided that he would retire from football after the death of his wife in 2012. Ashley was 29 years old when she passed away. In February of 2017, five years after his wife passed, Tommie wrote a column in The Players’ Tribune about his wife’s passing. Harris talked about how they first met and how much he loved and cared for her. Tommie will always keep Ashley in his heart.