Rodney Harrison Shines in NBC Booth at Super Bowl

While NBC received high marks for its broadcast of last night's Super Bowl across the board, many in sports media have been praising Rodney Harrison for his stand-out performance.

See below for some excerpts from Sports Business Journal and The New York Times, as well as a feature article from the New York Daily News.

Via Sports Business Journal:

[Tampa Bay Times, AP]

Via Richard Sandomir of The New York Times:

Harrison was at his best, bringing emotion to the broadcast, especially his lingering disappointment that his former team, the New England Patriots, lost to the Giants four years ago in the Super Bowl. An on-field segment paired Harrison with David Tyree, the former Giants receiver who made that epic, side-of-the-head catch late in that game.

“I’ve seen that play maybe 500 times this week, and sitting next to David right now, I’m still emotional,” Harrison said, sounding as if he might need counseling. “I blamed myself for six months, and it was devastating to the point where I felt like walking away.”

Each time Harrison appeared onscreen — in the Patriots’ locker room or on the field to show how to defend New England tight end Aaron Hernandez — he demonstrated an electric personality that contrasts nicely with Dungy’s calm, even priestly demeanor.

[NY Times]

Via Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News:

It was no shock, not even a mild surprise, that Rodney Harrison — with Dan Patrick — opened NBC’s Super Bowl XLVI pregame show in the Patriots locker room.

It seemed totally appropriate.

Not that it could be classified as true baggage, but coming into Sunday’s matchup between the Giants and Patriots, no NBC voice was schlepping a bigger load than Harrison.

There were the memories of Super Bowl XLII, when his Patriots lost, 17-14, to Big Blue. The most glaring moment was the nightmare of being draped all over David Tyree as he made the unforgettable glue-helmet catch.

So it seemed logical Harrison would be on national TV Sunday afternoon talking about Tom Brady’s mood the night the Giants ended New England’s perfect season in Arizona. Before that game, Harrison said, “you didn’t even want to look Brady’s way” as he sat near his locker. Harrison talked about Bill Belichick’s mood before that game, too. He also interviewed the coach midway through Sunday’s pregame.

All this left a perception, the perception — shared by a segment of Giants fans — that because of Harrison’s strong Patriots connection, his analysis would be tilting toward New England.

During Sunday’s pregame show, you could draw your own conclusions. There’s always a given with Harrison. He’s consistently outspoken. This has not changed since he joined NBC’s “Football Night In America” cast in 2009. He got a small taste of Supe TV work when NBC used him as a “guest” analyst during Super Bowl XLIII.

As opinionated as Harrison is, did he really expect Big Blue fans to believe that while he badly wanted the Pats to exact total revenge on the Giants last night for the loss in XLII, he still could be considered objective?

“Of course I can say that I want them to get revenge. Obviously, my heart is with the New England Patriots,” Harrison said during an interview before Sunday evening’s collision in Indy. “But I was the same guy who came out on our (NBC) Pro Bowl coverage and said I would take Eli Manning in the fourth quarter instead of Tom Brady, a guy who I won back-to-back championships with, a guy that I won 20 straight games with, and had a 16-0 season.”

Okay, so if Harrison is that objective, would he produce a blueprint to beat Brady?

“If you force Tom outside the pocket to his left you can rattle him,” Harrison said before the game. “Now you don’t know which Brady you’re going to get because he has been up and down this season. Part of that has been because he hasn’t trusted his teammates. He’s put a lot of pressure on himself.”

For Harrison, that kind of intense pressure is long gone. Yet he still had a hard time shedding the angst associated with the Tyree catch. On the pregame, he went one-one-one (in an interview, that is) with Tyree.

“It (the Tyree catch) haunted me for months — sleepless nights. I just haunted myself, trying to think if there was some way I could have ripped his arm or pulled it back,” Harrison said.

It’s doubtful, though, a Tyree-like play in the regular season would have stayed with Harrison so long. That’s why a play such as that one in the Super Bowl can linger.

“For a long time I carried a bitter taste in my mouth. But after months and months of really carrying the burden of such a heck of a play by David Tyree, I’ve been able to recently release that,” Harrison said. “But it still hurts.”

He admitted that he had some help shaking the memory.

“My mom and my wife allowed me to get over it. They looked at me and said, ‘Hey Rodney, there comes a point, you did everything you could have done to prevent that play from happening. What else could you have done? Move on. It’s part of life.’ ”

This is all getting too serious. Let’s face it, from the outside looking in it would appear that having to work with Patrick would be a worse nightmare than reliving the Tyree catch in your dreams every night. We did not pose that question, fearing it would cause dissension within the Peacock ranks.

Then again, maybe we should have. Harrison gets his back up when his objectivity is questioned. So, he probably would give a straight answer concerning Patrick, or any other performer, no matter if he or she works — or worked — with him on or off the field.

“Yes, I’ve been objective,” Harrison said. “I’ve criticized Belichick, and the defensive backs from the Patriots. I’ve been complimentary at times to that team. That’s my nature. If I feel something, I’ll let you know it. But I’m not going to shy away from what I feel. If it means criticizing my former team, I’ve never been shy about doing that.”

Maybe we should’ve asked Harrison to critique his current team.

Wonder what Harrison thinks of Bob (Rapping Roberto) Costas? Or Tony Dungy.

What about Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth?

It appears Harrison will be around for quite awhile. His three seasons at NBC have brought growth. The guy who seemed so angry as a player is even developing a sense of humor, sort of. Last night, he worked in front of a huge audience looking to walk away with new memories.

Harrison had a chance to create some, too.

He hoped they would be better than the ones the Giants left him with the last time around.

[NY Daily News]

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