Former NFL safety Rodney Harrison has been, at times, described as explosive, gritty, controversial and dynamic. However, it is certain that his legacy on the field has never been questioned. On Monday, he added one more distinction to an already impressive resume: 2019 Patriots Hall of Fame Inductee.
Harrison, who has now become the 29th player to be inducted into The Hall, spent six seasons anchoring the New England secondary.
The Patriots announced the results of the fan voting for the Hall on Monday afternoon. Harrison edged out fellow finalists Mike Vrabel (linebacker) and Richard Seymour (defensive lineman.) With each of the candidates boasting resumes that are well-deserving of election, fans had a tough task of selecting this year’s nominee. Though a valid argument can be made that there could be no wrong decision this year, Harrison’s election among his peers is certainly worthy.
Throughout his NFL career, Harrison was one of the most fearsome strong safeties in the NFL. After spending the first nine of his 15 NFL seasons with the San Diego Chargers, Harrison joined the Patriots in 2003. He was a key component in a Pats defense that won back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 2003 and 2004 (XXXVIII, XXXIX). Perhaps his most memorable moment as a Patriot was his game-sealing interception in Super Bowl XXXIX that ended Philadelphia Eagles’ final drive. Harrison’s leadership abilities were evident in his being selected as a team captain in each of his six seasons with the Pats.
Harrison was a two-time Pro-Bowler and a two-time First team All Pro. He holds the distinction of being the first player in NFL history to score touchdowns on an interception return, fumble return and kickoff return in same season (which he accomplished in 1997 as a member of the Chargers.) As a Patriot, Harrison shined his brightest in the postseason In the 2004-2005 NFL Playoffs, he had four interceptions in three games. His seven playoff interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown) are a Patriots team record.
On October 21, 2007, Harrison became the initial member of the 30/30 Club of players with both 30 interceptions and 30 sacks (a distinction held only by he and NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis). He finished his career in 2009 with 1,205 tackles, 34 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles. Harrison has the most sacks (30.5) of any defensive back in NFL history. Upon his retirement, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick called Harrison “one of the best players” he has ever coached.
The date and time for the 2019 Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be announced at a later date. On the day of the ceremony, Harrison will join former Pats offensive tackle Leon Gray (who was granted enshrinement by the selection committee) in The Hall’s Class of 2019.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC