End of the line in Foxboro: Safety Rodney Harrison officially
retired from the NFL after a truly memorable career.
For some fans, Harrison's legacy will be tarnished by the vicious hits that
crossed the line of good sportsmanship, drawing numerous fines, including one
that cost him more than $100,000 when he delivered a helmet-to-helmet blow to
But other NFL fans will remember him as a no-nonsense, business-like player
who knew only one speed on the football field, a man who was driven to win at
practically any cost.
"People have called me a dirty player. I'm a very passionate
player," he said during a conference call with the media. "I also
understand that this is not volleyball. This is a very violent, physical game,
and if you hit someone in the mouth, they're not going to be your friend. That's
what the game of football is."
No matter which side of the fence you're on when it comes to Rodney Harrison,
I think you'd be hard-pressed not to agree that he was one of those rare players
who brought a level of talent and emotion to the field every week that forced
his opponents to account for him on every play.
And that's not a bad common ground on which to be remembered by all NFL fans.
Refocusing in Cleveland: The recent fuss in the media over
Cleveland head coach Eric Mangini taking his team's rookies on a 10-hour trip to
Hartford, Connecticut to work with youngsters at a football camp boggles my
While the trip was voluntary, critics point out that with rookies trying to
land a job with the club, they would have been nuts to stay behind and risk
sending the wrong message to their boss.
Browns head coach Eric Mangini
AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Well, golly. Like that never happens to the rest of us in our respective
jobs. Next time it happens to you, be sure to alert the media.
While people were pitying the poor rookies who had to endure the trip, they
missed an important point. So Mangini properly put the spotlight where it
belonged in regards to the weekend excursion.
"We ended up with 760 kids from five different states and 61 different
towns," he said during a press conference. “A friend of mine brought a
little boy whose father had been killed two weeks go, and his mom was in jail
for drug dealing. To know that he had a good day and to see him smiling, and to
let him know that people cared about him, to let him know that he was important,
that was incredibly satisfying.
"To watch the speeches and hear Alex Mack talk about going into college
and how he really wasn’t highly recruited -- his emphasis was on school, but he
didn’t let anybody discourage him from the things he wanted to do in football -- and he built himself up into a first rounder. (New York Jets tight end) Dustin Keller talking about how your teachers and your coaches, they have your best
interests at heart and how important it is to listen to them. Bryan Cox talking
about finding a good mentor and Bryan growing up the way that he grew up and how
he was able to find someone that could show him the right things to do and how
important that was to his development.”
So really, folks. Shouldn't that have been the real story that came out of
the weekend trip to Hartford?
Lots of eye-rolling in Tennessee: I doubt that I have enough fingers
and toes to count the number of people at Titans headquarters who rolled their
eyes in disbelief over Vince Young's remarks earlier this week.
"Definitely I want to be in there playing ball and
picking up where I left off, winning games and having a good time with my
teammates and fans," Young said during a radio interview. "But at the
same time if them guys don't want me in there, it's time for me to make a career
change for myself.
"The fact is I'm ready to play ball, and if they're not ready for me to
play ball, somebody is."
Is Vince Young ready to return as a starter?
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
I'm glad to see that Young is showing some spunk and his competitive fire
again. After becoming a shadow of his former self, I like the fact that he's
telling the world that he's ready to play ball again. And I'm sure the Titans
are particularly relieved to hear it since they're on the hook to pay him a
little more than $2 million this year.
Titans head coach Jeff Fisher didn't appear to be among the eye-rollers, at
least not based on his comments during a radio interview this week.
"I would expect everyone on our football team to want to start. You need
that attitude," he said. "I think he may have been led on a
little bit in the interview, but I'm not paying attention to it, he knows there
is no potential for us to move him and I am not backing down off of what I said
at the end of that ball game or the Monday or Tuesday after Jacksonville. Kerry
(Collins) is our starter, but Vince is eventually going to be our starting
quarterback and the quarterback we drafted him to be, period."
Bottom line, Young needs to keep his feet on the ground if he's going to lead
an NFL club. Spouting off and claiming that other teams are ready to let him
play ball when his resume shows 22 touchdowns against 32 interceptions isn't a
very convincing argument. He might want to do a quick poll of team owners before
he blurts that one out again.
That said, I'd really like to see Young earn his way back into a starter's
role if he can pull it all together. I certainly haven't forgotten the
excitement he brought to the game of football when he was playing for the
Longhorns. And as much as I respect the stability that Kerry Collins has brought to
the quarterback position in Tennessee since Young fell from grace, there are times when watching him lead the offense is just a few steps above watching paint dry.
Unlike this year -- when the team would have taken a massive cap
hit if they would have released Young -- the Titans can save almost $7 million next year by
cutting him loose rather than paying him $12 million in salary and roster bonus
money. So Young has a huge incentive to win his starter's job back before the start of the 2010 season.
Big man in Miami: Prior to the NFL Draft, the common
assumption was that former cornerback Jason Allen would be one of the
front-runners for a starter's role along with Will Allen.
But then the team drafted Vontae Davis in the first round with the 25th pick overall
and Sean Smith in the second round with the 61st overall pick.
Rookie CB Sean Smith saw action with the first-team defense this week.
Marc Serota/Getty Images
While there is still some uncertainty over who will eventually win the
competition, former first-round pick Jason Allen appears to be fading in the
early going. Head coach Tony Sparano was charitable with his comments while
admitting that the 6-foot-1, 200-pound cornerback has some consistency issues to
"Well, honestly with Jason, unfortunately he’s been bouncing around a
little bit positionally," Sparano said. "When we came here he was a safety, and then we looked at him as a safety. We moved him to corner. You know
how the whole thing went down.
"So right now, it’s just again, he’s a guy that from a consistency
standpoint who really needs to become consistent out there at what he does well
-- which is he’s a big guy that can run. So he needs to play like a big
guy that can run out there and cover."
The Dolphins coach pointed out that in a division that features a number of
tall wide receivers, big corners are an asset in coverage. And Sean Smith, at
6-foot-3, 214 pounds, projects a strong, physical presence as a
The rookie played with the first-team unit on Tuesday.
"He’s been getting better and better each
practice and getting his hands on more footballs. He is playing a little
more confident," Sparano said. "So as he starts to progress a little
bit, we just want to see him versus better people. So everybody's kind of
going to get an opportunity a little bit here to get some reps with that group
and it was his day today."
“We’re going to be a defense that plays with relentless effort. That’s
(something) you’re going to hear me say a lot: relentless effort.” --
Seahawks head coach Jim Mora
"With Terrell (Owens) and Lee (Evans) out there
on the outside, it opens up so many possibilities. There's so much speed out
there with those guys and I think our part is just to try and find the open
spots and do our part to help Trent out and try to bail him out." --
Bills tight end Derek Fine on the role of the tight ends who are competing for
the starter's spot in Buffalo
"He is a really smart kid and he's picking things up very well. It's
just a matter of him doing it over and over again here, so that's what we're
working on, getting used to this offense. And he played a lot of inside slot
receiver at Missouri and we're going to ask him to do a little bit more on the
outside. He's picking it up very well." -- Eagles head coach Andy Reid
on first-round pick Jeremy Maclin
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A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com.