On Wednesday night, former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison was honored at ''The Tradition", held at TD Garden. The event was hosted by Glenn Ordway and Michael Holley of sports radio WEEI, and here were some notable soundbites from Harrison's appearance on stage:
How Junior Seau affected his career: "Junior Seau is directly responsible for me having the career that I had. As a rookie, I looked at Junior Seau every day at practice and I said, 'Junior, why do you practice so hard.’ He’s running around, a muscular guy, and he said, ‘Rodney, I get paid to practice. I’d play the games for free. It’s easy to go in front of 60,000-70,000 people and play. You don’t need motivation [for that].' But to come in and practice every single day and practice like it’s a game, that’s what Junior Seau taught me. I implemented that in my program and I did that over the course of my career. When I retired, the biggest compliment I got was when Bill Belichick said, ‘Rodney was the best practice player I had in 31 years.’ That’s what it’s about, because that sets the tone. I don’t care if it’s business or sports, when you come with that positive type of attitude, you come with that type of energy, it’s electric. People catch on. People want what you have. You don’t have to be a great athlete. But if you have your heart, the will to win, dude, you can accomplish anything you want. I was a decent athlete. I wasn’t great. But I had the will."
On the pressures of being an NFL player: “I think the main thing a lot of fans don’t understand is the type of pressure and anxiety that we as players, owners, general managers, that we carry each and every day. You’re always trying to live up to a standard. You’re always trying to be that perfect person, that perfect athlete. You always know your job is on the line and you’re trying to feed your family, and you know they’re going to try to bring someone younger in and get cheaper talent to replace you. So we carry such a great amount of anxiety. When I retired from football, when I got my last injury and got carted off the field, it was almost like relief, because my wife had told me that year is that the only way you’re going to retire is if they carry you off the field. When that happened, I just waved to the fans and was just like relieved. I was like, ‘You know, it’s over. I can walk away.’ I was happy, and I’m happy now – with the NBC job or without it. I’m at peace with what I’ve done, because I know I’ve impacted peoples’ lives, I know I worked my [butt] off, and I know that I have so much to offer each and every day. I coach Little League baseball, T-ball, basketball, and I’m enjoying my family. I’m a committed, dedicated husband and a father. That’s what drives me."
Impressions of playing for Bill Belichick: "When I was a free agent and I was basically talking to the Oakland Raiders. Bill Belichick called and I hopped on the first thing smoking. I ended up coming out to New England, and I said, ‘Coach, do you want me to work out? I didn’t really get any sleep on the plane, it was a red-eye.' He said he didn’t need me to work out, which I thought was kind of weird – ‘you’re going to pay me millions of dollars and not have me work out? OK.’ But then he started naming plays – ‘I remember this play, I remember that play.’ I was like, ‘Coach, that happened four or five years ago.’ But he remembered that. After that, Denver called me and they offered more money, and I said, ‘You know what, this is the right place for me. This man knows football, he knows exactly what he wants, and he has a vision.’ I believed that in vision and the best thing I did was come here to play football."
On if his accomplishments with the Patriots are more special now that he sees things through a media perspective: "I wouldn't necessarily say that. I would say it's more special now that I'm away and I get a chance to really sit back and [think] about what we accomplished. To be able to come together with so many different individuals, so many different personalities, and really have one common bond and one common goal, I think that was so special. Bill Belichick was the perfect catalyst to really bring all our different personalities together. To have grown men set their egos aside and say 'We're trying to win football games.' We didn't care if Tom [Brady] got the big contract, if he got all the write-ups in the newspaper, we just wanted to win football games."