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James “Shack” Harris retires from the NFL


The man who became the first African-American quarterback to start a regular-season opener and who went on to lead an NFL front office has ended his career in football, 46 years after entering the league through the draft.

Via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Lions senior personnel advisor James “Shack” Harris has retired at age 67.

An eighth-round pick of the Bills in 1969, Harris was a Pro Bowler with the Rams in 1974, the year he led the Rams to the NFC Championship game.

He became a scout with the Buccaneers in 1987. After six years in Tampa, he became assistant G.M. with the Jets. In 1997, Harris was hired as director of pro personnel in Baltimore. From 2003 through 2008, Harris served as V.P. of player personnel in Jacksonville.

Birkett notes that Lions G.M. Martin Mayhew said last week at the Scouting Combine that Harris was instrumental in persuading the team to take defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh over Gerald McCoy with the second pick in the 2010 draft.