A fifth-round draft pick out of Western Illinois in 1994, Rodney Harrison was never supposed to be anything more than a rotational role player. For the beginning of his career with the Chargers, that’s exactly what he was.
But in 1996, he would become a starter and the rest, as they say, is history. Harrison would go on to become one of the most physically imposing defenders in league history, let alone just team history.
Known for his hard-hitting style, Harrison was often considered a dirty player by his peers, fellow coaches and fans of other teams. But Chargers fans appreciated his effort to always put forth 100 percent on the field.
He played in 122 games for the team over his nine seasons in San Diego, making the Pro Bowl in 1998 and 2001. Unfortunately, he was never able to help the Chargers reach the ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl. In 2003, he decided to go to a team where he could live that dream.
After being released by the Chargers after the 2002 season, Harrison signed with the New England Patriots. In each of his first two seasons in Foxborough, he won a Super Bowl ring with New England.
Chargers fans may always have a bitter taste over Harrison finding more success elsewhere, but there is no doubt he was one of the best players in team history.
Harrison was a physical leader. He could defend the pass and would come to make big hits in the running game. He could get after the quarterback as one of the best blitzing safeties to ever play the game.
Harrison is one of just two players to ever register 30 sacks and 30 interceptions in their careers, with Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis being the other.
Selected to the Chargers 50th Anniversary Team, you can now catch Harrison on Football Night in America prior to Sunday Night Football.