BLOOMINGTON, Minnesota -- Barry Sanders. Dick Butkus. Steve Largent. Eric Dickerson. Gale Sayers. John Randall. LaDainian Tomlinson. Dan Dierdorf. Derrick Thomas. Lee Roy Selmon. Earl Campell. Deacon Jones.
What do all those Hall of Famers have in common?
None ever played on the game’s biggest stage, the Super Bowl. That’s unreal when you think about the greatness of those careers, and in some cases, how long those careers lasted. The number of touchdowns and yards and tackles and sacks and forced fumbles from that group is mind-numbing. But how many of those stats do you think they’d trade just to have gotten one ring? Hell, one crack at one ring?
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Contrast that with someone like Duron Harmon. He’s about to finish his 5th season with the Patriots. This is his third Super Bowl appearance. His other two years in New England resulted in trips to the AFC Championship game.
“It’s great living,” smiled the affable Harmon. “You see guys who play in this league for 10 plus years who never sniff the playoffs, let alone get to the Super Bowl so I know I’m definitely in a great spot.”
Like everyone on the roster during this stretch, Harmon has benefited from the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady combo platter. One’s the greatest coach of all-time. The other is the greatest quarterback of all-time. And if you won’t give them that (what’s wrong with you?), you’ll at least admit they’re very much in the conversation.
But here’s where things get a little twisted. While those two outshine even a Super Moon, they’re not the only reason why the Pats are here seemingly every single year. And though Harmon doesn’t want to outright say that, his tone is pretty clear.
“I’m blessed, but at the end of the day we work for this,” he said. “Nobody can take this from us. We earned it. We put the work in day in and day out, year in and year out. We all do a great job of deciphering from year to year to never let the previous year determine how we play the next year. That has allowed us to continue to always have a goal a mind and never backtrack or think about the past.”
Why is that important? Harmon emphasizes, “because the past really does nothing for you when you’re playing a football game.”
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Spoken like a player who knows what’s what, and one who’s just about ready for kickoff.
“It’s the Super Bowl,” he said. “If you can’t be focused for the Super Bowl, you shouldn’t be playing this game…Everybody is definitely ready. You can tell it.”
There’s plenty of players on the Patriots who know what that feels like. Harmon’s one of the lucky ones. It’s all that he knows.