Former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison will enter the team’s Hall of Fame, thanks to a vote of the fans. And that makes the honor more rewarding to Harrison than a bigger honor in which the fans don’t have a voice.
“I’m very grateful for the fans,” Harrison told reporters during a conference call on Monday. “The fact that the fans voted me in, it means more to me than say the Pro Football Hall of Fame because the fans got a chance to see me play every week. They got a chance to see the story and see the injuries and the adversity and the comeback and the plays that were made and the passion that was shown. They’re not going by reputation or rumors or anything like that, so it really meant a lot to me, the fact that the fans voted me in.”
Harrison was asked to clarify his position that, to him, the Patriots Hall of Fame means more than the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I’m not saying it like that in any disrespectful manner,” Harrison said. “But what I’m saying is when you get a chance, as a fan, to sit down and watch, whether you’re watching on your couch or in the stadium, you get a chance to see a person for who they are. You’re not going, ‘OK, hey man, what do you think about Rodney? He’s a dirty player.’ No, they’re not going on reputation. They’re going by all the blood and everything that I poured my heart out on that field, and that’s what I love because I didn’t have to worry about if they would respect the way I would play or if they would listen to someone else instead of putting on some film and watching me play. That’s why it meant so much to me, so much more to me, because it’s not going by reputation. You don’t have to have a certain reputation — good, bad or indifferent. The fans knew that I loved football. I gave everything for the organization, for my teammates, and for the fans and my family.”
Harrison has on multiple occasions in the past expressed concerns regarding the procedures for determining the inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Although some former players now have a voice, it’s predominantly a vote controlled by sportswriters. And Harrison knows he may never get enough support from that body to get in.
From his perspective, that’s OK. He got the award determined by those who watches him the most carefully, and who most greatly appreciate what he did for the Patriots.