If Rodney Harrison were facing Cam Newton on Sunday, the former NFL safety said his plan would be simple: He’d try to knock the Carolina quarterback out of the game by injuring him.
“If I was playing against Cam Newton, I would try to take him out,” Harrison said Wednesday on the Dan Patrick Show. "I would try to take him out."
Patrick asked Harrison for clarification. The NBC Sports analyst doubled down.
“I would try to hurt him,” he said. “I would go right at his knees. That’s the goal. You want to knock him out. That might be the difference between winning and losing the Super Bowl. Trust me, back when I came in the league, these are the conversations we had: ‘Hey man, we need to knock him out.' That’s just what it is.”
Panthers’ tight end Greg Olsen wasted no time firing back.
“People coming right out overtly and stating that they would try to injure your star quarterback in the Super Bowl, I think we’re talking about a different level of comments there,” Olsen was quoted as saying by blackandbluereview.com. “So again, I didn’t hear exactly what he said, but if it was how it’s being portrayed, then I think it's uncalled for and somewhat embarrassing.”
Harrison played 15 seasons for the Chargers and Patriots from 1994-2008. Four times he earned first team All-Pro honors and he’s got two Super Bowl rings. During his career, he was frequently flagged for unnecessary roughness and had the reputation for being dirty.
“That’s just what it is, man. It’s football,” Harrison said, referring to taking aim at Newton. “They're trying to hurt you. Cheap shots. Wide receivers coming at your knees, pushing you in the back. That’s just war.”
Harrison noted that taking out Newton would have been a looker room conversation among defensive players during his era. He added that low hits might deter a running quarterback from leaving the pocket.
“We’re going for his knees,” Harrison continued. “Every time he runs the ball, we need seven, eight guys hitting him. Hitting him in the shoulder. If he tries to jump over the pile, put your crown of your helmet right through his throat. That’s just the mentality. These are the conversations that no one talks about...You look at the Denver Broncos and they are so complimentary of Cam, ‘Oh he’s so great. He’s this, he’s that.’ But my conversation would be, we need to knock him out. We need him make him to the point where he doesn’t want to run the football.”
Patrick then made mention of Panthers' playoff loss to San Francisco in January 2014, noting that the 49ers put a beating on him that day.
“That’s what you have to do,” Harrison responded. “He’s a big man. And that’s the only way you’re going to discourage a quarterback that wants to the run the ball. You have to hit him in his mouth, over and over again.”