In his eight seasons with the New England Patriots, former Rutgers safety Duron Harmon earned three Super Bowl rings and witnessed the greatness of quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. When the veteran defensive back wasn’t grabbing interceptions in the postseason, he watched two of the top players in NFL history carve through defenses and keep the Patriots’ dynasty alive.
Then came the eventual breakup.
Gronkowski retired ahead of the 2019 season, which proved to be the last run for Brady and Harmon in New England. The veteran quarterback and his tight end teamed up on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the spring of 2020, while Harmon reunited with former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on the Detroit Lions.
Harmon, now with the Las Vegas Raiders, faced Brady and Gronkowski three times in the last two years — and, yes, he admitted it was strange at times.
Duron Harmon discussed his approach to facing former Patriots teammates Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski
The Lions didn’t have much to write home about on Dec. 26, 2020. Detroit allowed 40 unanswered points and didn’t score an offensive touchdown in a 47-7 home loss.
However, that Saturday afternoon marked an intriguing moment for Harmon. For the first time in his long career, he’d be playing against Brady and Gronkowski rather than celebrating their greatness on the same sideline.
In a recent interview with Sportscasting, Harmon reflected on the emotions involved in facing his longtime teammates.
“I don’t want to say they turn into numbers because they’re all Hall of Fame players and had exceptional careers, and it helped me get to where I’ve [gotten] to. It just turns into they’re on the opposing team. I can’t think about my feelings or what we used to have.”Duron Harmon
So, what approach did Harmon take?
“I need to do everything I can to put myself in a position to play the defense that I’m playing to the best of my ability so that I can make plays and help get my team a chance to win as well,'” Harmon said.
Brady fired three touchdown passes, two to Gronkowski, in the blowout victory that day.
Harmon signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2021, a move that ensured he’d have an opportunity to face Brady and Gronkowski twice a year. Although the Buccaneers won both games, Harmon jubilantly celebrated defensive lineman Marlon Davidson’s pick-six of Brady on Dec. 13.
Perhaps luckily for Harmon, his Raiders won’t face the Buccaneers in the 2022 regular season. Brady already boasts a 3-0 record against his former teammate, and the soon-to-be-45-year-old quarterback is likely eager to record a fourth straight victory.
With that said, the two sides could theoretically meet in the Super Bowl. Harmon already owns four playoff interceptions, and a fifth, one that could come against Brady, would certainly be quite the sight.