By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Rodney Harrison can now call himself a Patriots Hall of Famer. Hopefully the next stop is Canton, Ohio. Either way, Harrison owes a lot to the work of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Harrison made sure to make that clear when he gave his Hall of Fame speech at Patriot Place in Foxboro on Monday. Belichick’s dominant Super Bowl-winning defenses of 2003-04 did owe a lot of credit to Harrison, who revitalized his career and terrorized opponents all over the field after coming over from the Chargers. But Harrison also credits Belichick for taking a chance on him when nobody else would in the NFL.
He also described Belichick as “the greatest coach in the history” of all four major sports, not just football.
Here are some other notable quotes from his speech on Monday:
— “When I met with coach Belichick, he didn’t ask me any questions about, ‘Are you injured? Can you still play?’ He says, ‘I know you can play.’ He never followed the narrative. Everybody said, ‘Rodney’s done, he can’t run, he can’t play.’ Bill didn’t give a damn about any of that.”
— “What I loved about coach Belichick, he kept it so real. And when I came here, he gave me the freedom – he just gave me the freedom to play. Ty [Law] and I, we played together a lot. He would let me play corner, he would let me play strong safety, I’d be at the line of scrimmage, I’d have deep half. Coach gave me the freedom to be me. He didn’t try to restrict me, and I appreciate you, coach, for that.”
— “We always felt like we had almost like an extra guy on the field, because we were so well prepared. And I give coach Belichick and his assistants all the credit for that.”
Harrison’s comments on Belichick epitomize what’s made him such a dominant head coach during his time with the Patriots. He makes his system fit the players, not the other way around. Harrison was always more versatile than he ever showed in San Diego, and in New England Belichick let those skills flourish.
It’s a major reason Harrison donned a red jacket on Monday, and why he should one day get a gold jacket at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.