New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison addresses the media during his press conference at Gillette Stadium on January 17, 2008.
Q: You've had a couple of personal foul calls the last couple of weeks. How does that limit your aggressiveness?
RH: Obviously, I'm very disappointed about the personal fouls, but at the same time, I'm not going to take away my aggressive style and the way I play the game. That's just who I am. That's a part of my makeup and I wouldn't be Rodney Harrison if I took away my aggressive style, so I'm going to play my game, I'm going to be a lot smarter, but it won't change.
Q: Last year you had to watch the playoff game against the Chargers. How special is it this year being able to play in the AFC Championship Game?
RH: It's just special to be in the AFC Championship. I don't know necessarily facing the Chargers makes it any more special. This is my first time playing against the Chargers since I've been here. It'll be good to see LaDainian [Tomlinson]. I have a lot of respect for that guy and a lot of their other players. For me, I'm just happy to be in this game and excited. I'm excited for Junior Seau to have the opportunity to play in this game, '94 I think was the last year that he had an opportunity and just go out there and put our best foot forward.
Q: What do you remember about 1994?
RH: Just the excitement. I was a rookie back then, the excitement - really the unknown. Looking up before you only see half the stadium full and then all of a sudden you see the whole stadium full. Just that season was a pretty special season. But all in all, just the excitement, the intensity of the game, the excitement of the game.
Q: Last year, you were inactive for the AFC Championship Game. I'm sure you have a different appreciation playing in this year's game.
RH: I definitely have a great appreciation for it. In this game, you can't really take anything for granted. [There are] just so many things that can go wrong. To be in this position, where I've played for such a long time and had these opportunities. Last year, I got hurt. I was highly, highly disappointed with that, but you know things happen for a reason. I was able to watch my team and we were disappointed and I tell the young guys don't take anything for granted because at any point in time it can be over with -- whether it's a season, whether it's a game, whether it's your career. I think have a greater appreciation now that I'm older, now that I've gone through a bunch of different situations to really play in this game.
Q: What do you remember about 2002, to miss the playoffs, what do you remember about that?
RH: I'm not going to lie to you -- I don't even remember that year. I'm so focused on this week and what we have to do and my different jobs I have to do this week. I'm not focused or even concerned with what happened in 2002.
Q: Obviously injuries are out of anybody's control, but what has the key been the key to staying healthy this year and establish yourself?
RH: I mean, you can't do anything. I can lift all the weight I want and run and prepare and hot tub, cold tub and do all the different treatments, but some things you just can't avoid. You just can't help if someone tries to go at your knee and try to blow out your knee or someone rolls on your other knee and blows that one out. You just can't control that, but the one thing you can control is your emotions and the way you prepare and the way you appreciate the people around you and the opportunities you have in life and that's the one thing that I do. I appreciate the whole aspect of the game. I appreciate the media, as much as you guys get on my nerves. I appreciate my teammates, as much as they get on my nerves, as well as Coach Belichick. You just appreciate everything that comes along with this opportunity and it's so special because so many guys wish they were here right now.
Q: Does the mindset change from it being just another game when you get to this stage?
RH: It's pretty interesting you ask that question because as we were going out and we were warming up, Randall Gay, who never really says anything in the defensive backs huddle, he said, 'Guys, remember this is just a football game.' He said, 'Just relax and play football.' And that's really the mindset. It's a lot of hype around this game and deservedly so, but at the same time it's a football game. It's won and lost between the lines, not in the media. It doesn't matter who you guys pick. It doesn't matter what our records are. It doesn't matter what we've done in the past, your accolades. The only thing that matters is how you execute on Sunday and that's the only thing, making plays, preparation and executing.
Q: Can talk about how James Sanders has played?
RH: James has worked his way into a really good safety. [He's] a young guy that really shows that hard work really pays off, a guy that's a consummate pro. He's a leader, one of our leaders back there, great communicator, a guy that's making plays all over the field and a guy that's consistent. A lot of times with young players, you really don't get that consistency with them week-in and week-out. He's been extremely effective. He's been fun to play with just knowing that I can depend on that guy week-in and week-out.
Q: You saw how things ended last year in San Diego. This year, Phillip Rivers has made some scenes. How unusual is it that the quarterback is the one doing that?
RH: It's something that you're really not used to seeing. A lot of times, teams establish the reputation of their leader, of their quarterback or whatever their leader is, whether it's a linebacker, running back or what have you. Philip [Rivers], we feel like he's a good player and he's a very emotional player and I can understand that he's emotional. He wants to win. He wants to compete at a high level and sometimes, just like myself, we allow our emotions to get the best of us, but I think as you get older, I think as you mature, you understand that you have to be the calm, cool and collected one. You are the quarterback. You are the No. 1 guy, so you have to remain composed.
Q: You've been a safety now for 14 years. Can you talk about how the passing game has progressed in your time in the league.
RH: I think the scoring is up since I was a youngster. You have so many sophisticated offensive sets. You have so many guys that are threats. I mean, the tight ends of maybe 10 years ago, they're not the same tight ends of today. These guys… [Antonio] Gates, he's a wide receiver. I mean he's the best. I've watched film on him. He's a wide receiver. He just has a tight end's body and he can block, but he's a wide receiver. So how do you match up like that? Do you put a corner, safety, linebacker on him? The game has evolved in such a way that everyone's athletic. Particularly talking with San Diego, they have such a sense of depth in their roster. It doesn't matter who you put in there [Billy] Volek, [Legedu] Naanee, the little kid [Darren] Sproles, he's making plays, they're making plays with everyone. That's something that we definitely have to contend with.