You can find Part 1 of our exclusive interview with former Chargers and Patriots safety Rodney Harrison. In the conclusion, Rodney talks about what he misses most about the game, what's been lost from a technique standpoint in the NFL, who plays the game the right way now, and the work he's doing with Mars Chocolate in their "Be on the Field" contest If you want to learn more about how to win an all-expenses-paid trip for four to Super Bowl XVLI to celebrate on the field with the winning Super Bowl team, go towww.BeOnTheField.com.
Shutdown Corner: What do you miss most about playing?
Rodney Harrison: Probably just the guys - I don't miss the wear and tear, but I miss the guys. The conversations, the bonding periods, the opportunities to talk and get to know guys off the field and outside the realm of the locker room. Knowing them as men, as husbands and fathers and things like that.
SC: What do you like best about TV analysis?
RH: It gives me an opportunity to stay close to the game. I'm really in a great situation because I'm with NBC, and what a first-class network that is. Being with Tony Dungy and Dan Patrick, just first-class guys. It just gives me an opportunity to share the football moments; the special times in each game and each week.
We've built a strong relationship, and that's why it's also a great opportunity to team up with Mars Chocolate and what they're doing, giving the fans a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for an all-expenses paid trip for four to Super Bowl XLVI (in Indianapolis on February 5, 2012) so that they can celebrate on the field. So many guys in the NFL never get that chance - you look at a Jason Taylor, who’s played for 14 years - but here's an opportunity for the fans to celebrate on the field. I think that's pretty special.
Once again, it's about relationships, and teaming up with winners, and I think Mars is a winner, just as NBC is. I'm proud to be involved with both of them.
SC: When you watch football now, who are the safeties you respect most? Who plays most like you?
RH: Troy Polamalu is the guy who instantly comes to mind. His first year, he was totally lost and ... he had a lot of fans wondering, ‘why did they get this guy?" But he took his time, and eventually, he learned the pro style of football, which is totally different than the college game. He's a guy who does everything he can; he has a lot of freedom. He throws his body around, terrific tackler, and he trusts his instincts. He makes plays all over the field, and he's a tremendous leader, too -- you watch that game the Steelers had against the Jets in the regular season when he didn't play, and what a difference he makes when he's not on the field, because he has the ability to make the guys around him better. That's what he does, and that's what makes him so special.
SC: Safeties are asked to do so much in the modern game. In your mind, what did you do best, and what aspect of your position was the hardest to master?
RH: What did I do best? I felt that I was a great leader inside my locker room. That leadership is by example, it's by hard work, it's by knowing your strengths and weaknesses, but also by helping others become better. I always felt that I did a good job with that. On the field, I thought I was a great open-field tackler. I think the art of tackling has really left the game, and guys are doing what we call "push hits", where guys are pushing the players and not bringing their arms and property form-tackling.
People don't really give me the credit for the type of player that I was. The older I got, and the more I got in the game, the more man-on-man coverage I did. When I came to the Patriots, Bill Belichick took me from a deep-field safety to being a nickel back, and a lot of people said through my career that I couldn't cover, but I've covered Hines Ward in the slot, and Santonio Holmes on the goal line with man-to-man coverage out wide. I've covered Reggie Wayne in the slot for more than 15 plays. So, I've been a guy who - especially during the later part of my career - who was able to cover.
SC: There are four teams left in this season - who do you pick to go all the way?
RH: You know, it's hard to go against Pittsburgh - I don't think the Jets can beat the Steelers twice at home in one year. I'm going with them and the Green Bay Packers - I think Aaron Rodgers is really playing well. I'm a Chicago guy, but Green Bay is really hot, with one of the best defenses in the league. They have an assortment of good defensive backs, so I'm taking those two teams.
SC: Speaking of older defensive backs playing different roles, what's your tale on Charles Woodson(notes),still playing at such a high level and doing new things at this point in his career with the safety hybrid stuff and the blitzing?
RH: I love the fact that he's able to do those types of things, especially later in his career. Initially, he was knows as a big, physical shutdown cornerback who could play man-to-man coverage. But just to show his versatility ... Charles has worked on his game, and honed his body, and made some adjustments to do those hybrid things. That just speaks to his versatility, and why he was the Defensive Player of the Year last year. It's why he gets better every year, and why he's the best cornerback out there.
SC: Talk a bit more about the "Celebrate on the Field" promotion with Mars Chocolate.
RH: If you want to learn more, go to http://www.BeOnTheField.com - once again, it's a great chance for fans to come on the field during Super Bowl XLVI in the most precious moment of the game. Players have worked their entire lives to get to that position, and to be able to celebrate it as a fan with three other people in an all-expenses-paid trip - it's a great thing that Mars is offering.