RODNEY HARRISON VOTED BY FANS INTO THE PATRIOTS HALL OF FAME
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced today that former safety Rodney Harrison has been voted by the fans as the 29th person to be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Harrison, who helped the Patriots win back-to-back Super Bowl championships in 2003 and 2004, becomes the seventh player from those teams to be selected into the Patriots Hall of Fame, joining Troy Brown (2012), Tedy Bruschi (2013), Ty Law (2014), Willie McGinest (2015), Kevin Faulk (2016) and Matt Light (2018).
Harrison will join offensive tackle Leon Gray, who was selected for induction by a 10-person senior selection committee in April, as the 2019 Patriots Hall of Fame honorees. The induction will be held on Monday, July 29, 2019 in the Patriot Place Plaza outside The Hall and Gillette Stadium’s north end zone. The ceremony is free to the public.
Harrison played the final six seasons of his 15-year NFL career with the Patriots after spending his first nine seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He played a key role in helping the Patriots to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in his first two seasons with New England in 2003 and 2004. Harrison came up big on the biggest stage, with seven interceptions in nine postseason games with the Patriots, including two in Super Bowl XXXIX over the Philadelphia Eagles. His seven postseason interceptions are tied for the third-most in NFL postseason history, and his four picks in the 2004 playoffs are tied for the third-most in a single postseason.
“Rodney Harrison was a veteran leader who helped create a championship culture in our locker room, and his impact in New England was felt immediately, both by his teammates as well as enemy ball carriers,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “He was one of the hardest hitting defenders in the game and a tone-setter for our defense. In his first two seasons with the Patriots, he not only led the defense in tackles, he led the team to consecutive 17-win seasons that culminated in Super Bowl championships. Those teams will be celebrated in New England for generations to come, and Rodney played a pivotal role in their record-setting success. Now, with his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame, I am thrilled that Rodney will forever be recognized as one of the greatest Patriots to ever play the game.”
In his first two seasons in New England, Harrison was not only the Patriots leading tackler each year, but he also led all NFL defensive backs in tackles both seasons. He set a career-high with 140 tackles in 2003, followed by a 138-tackle performance in 2004. Additionally, he was the leading tackler in the 2003 and 2004 postseasons, while also recording two sacks, six interceptions, seven passes defensed and two forced fumbles in the six games leading to New England’s back-to-back Super Bowl championships. He is the all-time leader in sacks by a defensive back with 30½, including nine during his time with the Patriots. He is the only defensive back in NFL history with 30 sacks and 30 interceptions, with eight of those picks coming during his Patriots career. Harrison was voted a team captain in each of his six seasons with the Patriots.
Harrison also had a knack for coming up with interceptions at crucial times. In the 2004 regular season and playoffs, five of his six interceptions came inside the opponent’s 20-yard line with four of those picks coming inside the 4-yard line and two of them coming in the end zone. His only 2004 interception that did not come inside the 20-yard line was a fourth-quarter interception in Super Bowl XXXIX that ended Philadelphia’s last drive to clinch the championship.
Beginning in 2007, the Patriots started a new tradition, inducting one player or head coach into the team’s hall of fame each year. The process for induction involves a panel of media, alumni and staff who collectively nominate the players or head coaches most deserving of induction. After the nominations are made, the committee votes and the top three tallies become that year’s finalists. The Patriots then give fans the opportunity to vote online to select each year’s hall of fame inductee. The Patriots are the only team in the NFL that allows their fans to make the final selection for enshrinement into the franchise’s highest honor.
The New England Patriots held their annual nomination committee meeting on Thursday, April 4, to vote for this year’s candidates for induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame. The finalists (listed in alphabetical order) were Harrison, defensive lineman Richard Seymour and linebacker Mike Vrabel.