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Harrison announces his retirement from football


Safety Rodney Harrison

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Veteran safety Rodney Harrison has announced his retirement from professional football after 15 NFL seasons. Harrison spent the last six seasons with the New England Patriots (2003-08) after playing nine seasons with the San Diego Chargers (1994-2002).

"Like so many other Patriots fans, Rodney Harrison will always be one of my favorite players," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "When he signed with the Patriots as a free agent in 2003, he did so with one goal in mind: to win Super Bowls. In each of his first two years, 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 I hope that Rodney will always be remembered for the many contributions he made to those championship teams. For the past six years, Rodney was a leader in the locker room and a tenacious defender on the field. He gave the Patriots, and the game of football, everything he had on every play, which earned the respect of Patriots fans everywhere. We look forward to bringing Rodney back to a game in the near future to honor him and to give our fans an opportunity to show him their appreciation."

Harrison, 36, played in 186 career games with 159 starts over his 15-year career. He retires as the only player in NFL history to record at least 30 sacks and at least 30 interceptions (his career totals include 30.5 sacks and 34 interceptions). He is the NFL's all-time leader in sacks by a defensive back (30.5). Since entering the league in 1994, press box statisticians have credited Harrison with 906 solo tackles, leading all NFL defensive backs during that span.

"Rodney Harrison is one of the best players I have ever coached," said Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. "In the biggest games, in any situation and on a weekly basis, his production was phenomenal. Rodney is the best practice player I have seen in 35 years in the NFL, which is a testament to his exceptional passion for the game and his desire to sustain and improve his level of play. Regardless of his status on the team and in the league, Rodney's approach to preparation spoke volumes about his devotion to the team and his ability to raise every player's game. Rodney embodies all the attributes coaches seek and appreciate - toughness, competitiveness, leadership, selflessness, hard work, intensity, professionalism - and coming from Rodney, they are contagious. I am honored to have coached Rodney Harrison and am grateful for his significant impact on my career and the success of the New England Patriots."

Harrison was named a team captain in five of his six seasons with the Patriots while playing in 72 regular-season and playoff games over that span. New England compiled a 62-10 record in the games he appeared in, including an 8-1 playoff mark. In his first two seasons with the Patriots (2003-04), Harrison was not only New England's leading tackler each year, but also led all NFL defensive backs in tackles both seasons, recording a career-high 140 tackles in 2003 and following that up with 138 tackles in 2004. He started every regular-season and playoff game in those two seasons, helping to lead the Patriots to back-to-back Super Bowl championships while totaling six interceptions in the Patriots' six playoff games from 2003-04. After playing in just three games in 2005 before being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury, Harrison returned to start 10 games in 2006 as the Patriots defense allowed a franchise-low 10 touchdown passes all season. In 2007, Harrison played in 12 games with 11 starts and also started all three playoff games as the Patriots became the first NFL team to complete a 16-0 regular season. In 2008, Harrison started the first six games of the season for the Patriots before suffering a season-ending thigh injury on Oct. 20. At the time of his 2008 injury, his 45 tackles ranked second on the team.

The Markham, Ill. native has been a consistent performer on the NFL's biggest stage, recording seven interceptions in his nine playoff games with the Patriots, setting the team's career playoff interception record. In the 2004 playoffs, Harrison recorded four interceptions, including two in Super Bowl XXXIX. He was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on March 12, 2003.

Harrison spent the first nine seasons of his career with the San Diego Chargers (1994-02) after he was selected by San Diego in the fifth round (145th overall) of the 1994 NFL Draft out of Western Illinois. He was selected to participate in the Pro Bowl following the 1998 and 2001 seasons and was named to the Associated Press All-Pro First Team while with the Chargers in 1998. The 6-foot-1-inch, 220-pound safety started 97 of 123 games with the Chargers. In nine seasons in San Diego, he compiled 759 total tackles, including 21.5 sacks, and 26 interceptions.

In his regular-season career, Harrison recorded 1,211 tackles (923 solo), 30.5 sacks for 236.5 yards, 34 interceptions for 361 yards and two touchdowns, 115 passes defensed, 15 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and 57 special teams tackles. In the playoffs, Harrison played in 13 games (9 starts) and recorded 72 tackles (58 solo), two sacks for four yards, seven interceptions for 118 yards and a touchdown, nine passes defensed, two forced fumbles and seven special teams tackles.

Click here to listen to the entire Rodney Harrison conference call with the media conducted on Wednesday, June 3, 2009..

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