Patriots

Rodney Harrison: Fan vote makes call to Patriots Hall a special one

Rodney Harrison: Fan vote makes call to Patriots Hall a special one

Given the choice of red or gold, Rodney Harrison will take the blazer that would fit right in at your company Christmas party.

The two-time Super Bowl champion safety was announced as this year's inductee to the Patriots Hall of Fame on Monday. Now an NFL analyst and radio host for NBC Sports, Harrison told reporters on a conference call that this latest honor meant more to him than if he was enshrined in Canton.

"I’m very grateful for the fans," Harrison said. "The fact that the fans voted me in, it means more to me than say the Pro Football Hall of Fame because the fans got a chance to see me play every week. They got a chance to see the story, and see the injuries, and the adversity and the comeback and the plays that were made, and the passion that was shown. They’re not going by reputation or rumors or anything like that, so it really meant a lot to me, the fact that the fans voted me in."

Harrison was one of three finalists to be inducted in 2019. Fans had the opportunity to choose between him, Mike Vrabel or Richard Seymour. Harrison, who will be the 29th person inducted, said he was surprised to be the choice. It was his first year as a finalist, whereas Vrabel and Seymour -- both of whom have three rings as Patriots -- have been finalists in years past.

"It was kind of shocking to me," Harrison said. "I said, ‘OK, the fans get an opportunity to vote now, but you know what, those guys are longer tenured guys. Maybe they vote them in.’ I was thinking more so Richard and I was just saying, you know what, it doesn’t even matter at this point. We won championships together but I’m very happy that the fans, they saw through everything, and they voted me. I’m still kind of shocked because I didn’t expect it. Wow."

Harrison, as Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran explained, was one of the driving forces of the franchise that was able to pick itself up off the ground following a disappointing 2002 campaign to win Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004.

"His most important contribution," Curran wrote, "was putting the paddles to the chest of the franchise in 2003 when he was signed in the offseason. In July and August of 2003 Harrison was the catalyst for re-infusing the team with the vicious, competitive temperament it had in 2001 but which waned in 2002."

Asked for his proudest moment as a member of the Patriots, Harrison recalled the jolt he provided the team upon his arrival.

"I came in and ruffled a few feathers and that was always a great moment for me because I went into unfamiliar territory," he said. "Denver wanted me and they were offering a lot more money and I just decided once I met with Scott Pioli and Coach [Bill] Belichick, I knew the Patriots were the answer. I knew I did the right thing when I decided to come to New England."

Harrison may not have thought he had a shot at being named a Hall of Famer this year, but it's fitting that he'll be inducted this year after a career spent exceeding expectations. 

"I’m just really excited man," he said. "You just have no idea, coming from being a little kid in Markham, Illinois when people your whole life have told you, ‘You can’t, you’re too small, you’re too skinny, you’re not fast enough, you’re not tall enough, you don’t go to Ohio State, you don’t go to Michigan, you go to Western Illinois.’ 

"I’ve heard that my entire career and to continue to fight and claw, I just want to be able to use my example to young kids and people that struggle with their confidence, to encourage them. You’ve just got to keep working, you’ve got to continue to believe in yourself, continue to fight and claw for everything that you get and you never can become complacent. And that’s the example that I try to set for my kids and kids in the community and that’s important to me, that’s what I stand for."

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Report: Raiders prepared to offer Tom Brady two-year, $60 million deal

Report: Raiders prepared to offer Tom Brady two-year, $60 million deal

We have an actual dollar figure attached to the swirling rumors of various Tom Brady free agency landing spots.

The Brady-to-Las Vegas speculation has been out there since TB12 was spotted chatting up Raiders owner Marc Davis at the Connor McGregor-Cowboy Cerrone fight in Vegas last month. Now, veteran NFL reporter Larry Fitzgerald Sr. (father of the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver) reports that Davis' Raiders are prepared to offer TB12 a two-year, $60 million deal.

It's interesting to note that Larry Fitzgerald Jr., like Brady, is a long-time interviewee of Jim Gray on Westwood One's broadcasts of Monday and Thursday night NFL games. 

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While Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on Super Bowl Sunday that the Patriots are willing to go beyond $30 million a year to retain Brady, it's unclear if New England would make a multi-year offer, since the face of the franchise, who'll turn 43 in August, essentially worked under a one-year deal this past season. 

Our Tom Curran has reported that while the Patriots will "extend themselves" financially to retain Brady, money is likely not the most important factor to the QB.

As Curran wrote Friday:

The persuasion in the Patriots pitch has to revolve around "who" and not "how much." The team that Brady plays for in 2020 won’t be the winner of a bidding war, it will be the one that provides the best ready-made landing spot to compete for a championship and have a shitload of fun while doing it.

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In Tom Brady's case, are NFL tampering rules made to be broken?

In Tom Brady's case, are NFL tampering rules made to be broken?

If Robert Kraft ever commissioned a sculptor to carve “10 Patriots Commandments” you’d be sure to find, “Thou Shalt Not Tamper With Our Employees” somewhere on that stone tablet.

Throughout Kraft’s ownership and Bill Belichick’s stewardship of the football operations, loyalty has been rewarded and betrayal punished.

From January 1997, when the Jets were monkeying around with Bill Parcells when the Patriots were getting ready for Super Bowl 31 against the Packers, through June 2019, when the Texans made their overtures to Nick Caserio, the Patriots have made one thing very clear: they aren’t going to be patsies when it comes to other teams trying to lure their people away.

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Which brings us to Tom Brady. As everything does. Do the Patriots care that a stealth parade of suitors is probably all up on him already?

Is this uber-protective organization fine with half of the league’s teams sniffing under the tail of the most important player in franchise history before they’re supposed to?

Rampant tampering with prospective free agents isn’t the NFL’s dirty little secret.

It’s not dirty since it’s somewhat necessary.

It’s not little since every team does it.

And it’s not even treated as a secret.

This week, the estimable and honorable Tedy Bruschi was asked about Brady on ESPN.
 

“I think he’s gonna see what’s out there for himself,” said Bruschi. “Matter of fact, I know he will. But I don’t think he’s going to have to wait until March 16 because you’ve got agents, you’ve got talk going on behind the scenes and I think he has an idea on the teams that are highly interested in him ... He will explore his options and he has the right to do so.”

The question then becomes what’s the league office going to do about it?

We all know the NFL’s penchant for selective rules enforcement. We all know they’ll happily string the Patriots up for transgressions real or imagined and let them twist in the wind. We all know the so-called Spygate II investigation that could have been cleared up in 20 minutes is still ongoing.

So, even if everybody’s doing it, isn’t it a little (a lot) hypocritical for the league to turn a blind eye to teams crawling up the trellis to slip in Brady’s window after dark?

Yes, it is. But a little hypocrisy never slowed the league down from doing anything.

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Besides, they might say, tampering with Tom Brady is actually a victimless crime. It actually does the Patriots a favor.

If Brady and his agent Don Yee have a sense of what’s out there before they start negotiating with New England, then the need for Brady to go on a free-agent tour is eliminated.

If Team Brady has no clue, then Yee starts from scratch when the legal tampering period begins March 16 at noon. 

There’s no way to vet each of the opportunities -- a source close to the situation figures there will be 10 teams expressing interest -- before free agency starts March 18 at 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, how are the Patriots supposed to convince free-agent tight ends or wideouts to come aboard if those players don’t know whether or not Tom Brady will be a Patriot? It’s easily argued that outside teams tampering with Brady is in the Patriots’ best interests.

Besides, if this really isn’t about the money -- and I’ve been told often enough that it isn’t -- it won’t matter if some crap-ass team is offering $70 million over two years.

The persuasion in the Patriots pitch has to revolve around "who" and not "how much." The team that Brady plays for in 2020 won’t be the winner of a bidding war, it will be the one that provides the best ready-made landing spot to compete for a championship and have a shitload of fun while doing it.

All that said, it will still seem odd to me if the Patriots -- whether it be Kraft or Belichick -- don’t somehow have their sense of honor offended by all the predicted sneaking around.

It’s always offended their sensibilities going back to January 1997 when it came to light that Bill Parcells spent the week leading up to Super Bowl 31 ringing up the Jets from his New Orleans hotel room instead of getting the Patriots ready to play the Packers.

The Krafts were apoplectic. Belichick, an assistant on that 1996 Patriots team, was pissed too.

"Yeah, I'd say it was a little bit of a distraction all the way around," Belichick told our Michael Holley for Holley’s book Patriot Reign. "I can tell you first hand, there was a lot of stuff going on prior to the game. I mean, him talking to other teams. He was trying to make up his mind about what he was going to do. Which, honestly, I felt [was] totally inappropriate. How many chances do you get to play for the Super Bowl? Tell them to get back to you in a couple of days. I'm not saying it was disrespectful to me, but it was in terms of the overall commitment to the team."

Every situation’s different, I guess. In this case, the tampering rules were made to be broken.