Marvin Harrison’s Dark Past Clouds His Historic NFL Career

Former Colts wide receiver Harrison is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his accomplishments on the field — including a record that stood for almost two decades. But his legacy as one of the game’s best receivers is tainted by a dark past.

The man who caught more than 1,100 passes in his NFL career has a sordid history involving guns, and he may have even been involved in a murder. Here’s a look at Harrison both on and off the field.

Marvin Harrison’s NFL career

Harrison played 13 seasons in the NFL from 1996 to 2008, all with the Colts. Arguably the best receiver in the league in his prime, he recorded 100-plus receptions in four straight seasons from 1999 through 2002, with that last year being a record-setter.

In 2002, Harrison caught an NFL record 143 receptions for a career-best 1,722 yards and 11 touchdowns. This record stood until this season when Saints WR Michael Thomas logged 149 catches.

Harrison had at least 10 touchdown catches for eight straight years, with a career high of 15 in both 2001 and 2004. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler and a member of the Colts’ championship team in Super Bowl XLI.

Harrison was involved in a shootout

He was one of the NFL’s best players on the gridiron, but Harrison was a troubled individual off of it. In 2010, GQ reported details of a Philadelphia gunfight where a gun registered to Harrison was used in a shooting. Street hustler Robert Nixon claims to have witnessed Harrison’s involvement in a shootout in broad daylight with drug dealer Dwight Dixon.

Nixon got caught in the crossfire and was shot in the back. Per his account, Harrison was sitting in a car and exchanged words with a “fat man,” and saw Harrison start shooting at the man, who was sitting in his car. Nixon says Harrison “unloaded” two guns into the man’s car and kept firing as the man sped off.

Authorities questioned Harrison about the 2008 shootout that occurred outside of a car wash he owned. Ultimately no charges were filed against the retired player because Nixon’s testimony was deemed unreliable.

Harrison potentially involved in a murder

Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison on the sidelines
Former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison | Robert B. Stanton/NFLPhotoLibrary

Dixon survived the gunshot wounds he suffered in that shootout. However, he was shot to death more than a year later. The even took place in 2009, as Dixon sat in his car outside of a diner located near a bar Harrison owned.

The suspect in the murder was caught on a security camera at a nearby convenience store, but shadows made it difficult to identify the person. The police reportedly obtained a second surveillance video — recorded by a camera at Harrison’s bar — but this tape was missing three minutes worth of footage.

There was a blank section in the recording just as the suspect got close enough to the camera to be identified. Harrison’s cousin, Lonnie Anderson, was suspected of the second shooting that ultimately ended Dixon’s life.

In the year-plus between the two shootings, Dixon was tried and found guilty of lying to police about the initial incident with Harrison. While Harrison may not have pulled the trigger in the fatal shooting, evidence points to the possibility of him being involved in the death of the 33-year-old.

Whether Harrison was involved in the murder or not, just the look of it casts a pall over his NFL career and tarnishes his legacy.