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Bill Belichick goes to bat for Rodney Harrison's Hall of Fame candidacy

Bill Belichick gushes about Rodney Harrison
Bill Belichick gushes about Rodney Harrison 02:08

BOSTON -- When the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters get together for their big meeting before the Super Bowl, Bill Belichick won't be there. He's not a voter, so he won't have the chance to sway the voters one way or another.

Perhaps recognizing that landscape, the legendary head coach used his time at the podium on Friday morning as an opportunity to explain exactly what made Rodney Harrison so great.

Harrison is a finalist for the Hall of Fame this year for the first time, after failing to make the jump from the semifinalist pool in each of the past three years. While it's a competitive class, the two-time Super Bowl champion finally has a chance to earn enshrinement in Canton.

With that being the topic, Belichick was asked what Harrison brought to the team when he arrived as a free agent in 2003.

"Everything," Belichick answered. 

The rest of Belichick's response was expansive, to say the least, and it led to Belichick putting Harrison on his all-time team.

Here's what Belichick said:

Best safety I've coached. And there's a couple of other ones that I've coached that are in the Hall of Fame. Fantastic player, person, great competitor, could do it all. One of the most versatile players I've ever coached. He could cover -- he really could play corner. He was a great blitzer, he was a great tackler. He was really, really, really hard to block in the running game, as a blitzer, kickoff coverage, things like that. He was very explosive -- he was 220 pounds, whatever he was. But I mean, he was a thumper. He was a contact player. But ran well, very instinctive. Did a great job of disguising coverages. Worked well with his teammates, with Eugene [Wilson] and some different safeties we had back there through his career.

He's just a heck of a football [player]. He was one of the best I've ever coached. He'd certainly be on my all-time team, without question -- behind [Lawrence] Taylor. But I mean, he would certainly be, you know, he'd be right up there. 

Tremendous player. Great practice player, too. Made everybody else on the team better. If you practiced against him, you got better or you got embarrassed -- one of the two. He brought a level of competitiveness, intensity, focus and brought a higher level of practice to the team, which helped everybody. There was a lot of things that don't ever show up in the stats or anything like that. But tremendous, tremendous respect for what he did as a player, what he brought to our team, how much he meant to our team, and you know, what we lost when we lost him. I mean, we lost a great, great player Monday through Monday. It wasn't just on Sunday, what he brought to the team every day of the week, every day he walked into the building, every time he stepped on the field was all positive and impressive. 

So certainly, I hope he gets recognized. I think he definitely deserves it. This guy's a great football player and a great teammate.

Harrison joined the Patriots in 2003, and won Super Bowls in each of his first two seasons in New England. He'd remain with the Patriots through the 2008 season. In 63 games with the Patriots, he made 446 tackles with eight interceptions, seven forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and nine sacks. In nine playoff games with the Patriots, he made 73 tackles with seven interceptions (returning one for a touchdown), two forced fumbles and two sacks. Prior to joining the Patriots, Harrison played nine seasons for the San Diego Chargers, where he recorded 760 tackles with 26 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), eight forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown), and 21.5 sacks in the regular season while also playing in four postseason games, including Super Bowl XXIX in his rookie season.

Along with Ray Lewis, Harrison is one of just two players in NFL history with at least 30 career sacks and 30 career interceptions. 

Harrison's stats certainly compare favorably to Hall of Famer John Lynch and fellow finalist Darren Woodson:

And when the voting committee meets in Las Vegas in February to debate this year's finalists, it wouldn't be surprising if Belichick's words from Friday are repeated for consideration.

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