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Rodney Harrison On Defending Cam Newton: 'I Would Try To Hurt Him, I Would Go Right At His Knees'

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Rodney Harrison makes a good football analyst because he rarely minces words, and he can never be accused of being dishonest.

As a player, he made a living by inflicting pain on opponents whenever possible. Sometimes that occurred between whistles, and other times it took place after the whistle had blown. The borderline Hall of Famer thus had a well-earned reputation around the league.

Now in his post-playing days, Harrison isn't sugarcoating his thoughts on the game. On Wednesday, Harrison was asked if Cam Newton's end-zone celebrations would have bothered him as a player. Quickly, Harrison steered the conversation toward what he'd do to try to prevent such celebrations.

"The defense is different from when I came in the league back in '94, the mentality is different," Harrison said. "If I was playing against Cam Newton, I would try to take him out. I would try to take him out."

Patrick asked exactly what Harrison meant.

"I would try to hurt him. I would go right at his knees," Harrison replied. "That's the goal. That's the goal. You want to knock him out -- that might be the difference between winning and losing the Super Bowl. And 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."

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Harrison, who suffered a number of serious injuries over the course of his 15-year career, said that the attempts to injure opponents take place on both sides of the ball.

"It's just what it is, man. It's football," he said. "They're trying to hurt you -- cheap shots, wide receivers coming at your knees, pushing you in your back. That's just war."

While nobody would doubt Harrison's sincerity, here's a reminder of the type of hit the former safety used to dole out ... even in preseason games.

Harrison stressed that he has no issues with Newton's celebratory dances, but that the only way to stop him is to hurt him.

"We're going for his knees," Harrison said his game plan would be. "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 [among] defensive players. And 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 to make him to the point where he doesn't want to run the football.'

"That's what you have to do. He's a big man, and that's the only way you're going to discourage a quarterback that wants to run the ball. You have to hit him in his mouth, over and over again."

Rodney Harrison on The Dan Patrick Show (Full Interview) 02/03/2016 by Dan Patrick Show on YouTube

Cruel? Yes. Slightly barbaric? Yes. But ... honest. Rodney Harrison is always honest ... even if the NFL would probably prefer he keep such things off the airwaves.

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