For several years, Rodney Harrison manned the New England Patriots’ secondary with leadership, grace, and destructive hits.
Harrison is one of the best players in Patriots history, and the team always valued his presence. But no one could stop Harrison when, after a heartbreaking Super Bowl loss, he sat in his hotel room and cried.
This is how Harrison, a New England Patriots legend, went from minutes of winning the Super Bowl to locking himself in his hotel bathroom.
Rodney Harrison had a storied NFL career
Interestingly, Rodney Harrison is seemingly remembered solely for his Patriots days the way Tom Brady or Rob Gronkowski will be.
But of Harrison’s 15 seasons, Harrison only played six of them in New England — and he only averaged 11 games per year with the Patriots. The other nine campaigns came alongside Junior Seau and the San Diego Chargers.
Still, none of that is to diminish the terrific career Rodney Harrison had. Harrison retired with 34 career interceptions, two he returned for touchdowns, and 30.5 sacks. Harrison forced 15 fumbles, received credit for 78 pass breakups, and earned first-team All-Pro honors twice.
In the postseason, Harrison forced two fumbles, had seven interceptions (including an 87-yard touchdown return in January 2005), and two sacks.
Most importantly for Harrison, he won Super Bowl rings after the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Harrison is now an important voice on NBC’s NFL coverage
Younger football fans may only know Rodney Harrison from either Madden games or NBC’s NFL coverage.
Harrison joined NBC Sports in June 2009, the same time he retired. He and former Colts coach Tony Dungy both joined Football Night in America and have remained there since.
Considered a “dirty” player while active, Harrison has brought insightful knowledge and analysis to NBC. Harrison also entered New England’s Hall of Fame in 2019.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame still has not voted Harrison into Canton’s ranks, however.
Rodney Harrison said he cried at his hotel after a Super Bowl loss
Rodney Harrison was famously involved in the Helmet Catch, which sparked Eli Manning and the New York Giants’ upset of an undefeated New England Patriots team in Super Bowl 42.
Veteran receiver David Tyree leaped high late in the fourth quarter and snagged an Eli Manning pass in the air on third down.
Harrison did his best to force an incompletion and even got one of Tyree’s hands free. But the other hand, and Tyree’s helmet, kept the ball lodged and secure to seal the first down.
Manning threw a touchdown to Plaxico Burress with less than a minute left. New York closed the game for arguably the biggest upset in NFL history.
In April 2015, longtime NFL journalist Peter King attended the screening of The Greatest Catch Ever, a half-hour documentary on Tyree’s historic catch in Super Bowl 42. Spike Lee, a native New Yorker, directed the documentary.
In a column for The MMQB, King called Harrison the “star of the doc.”
“Harrison’s emotion at the crushing disappointment shone through in his interview with Lee. He was, well, just so moved, in a bad way, by the failure to dislodge the ball from Tyree. So moved, in fact, that when he went back to his hotel after the game, he said he holed himself up in the bathroom of his room and cried.”
Unfortunately for Harrison, he never got another real chance at redemption. He tore his quadriceps in October 2008 and never played again.
New England didn’t win another Super Bowl until February 2015.