Goodbye Marvin

February 23, 2009

ph2006101701695_article1Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison – touchdown.   Those words were said more times than any pitch and catch combination in NFL history.   The tandem of Manning and Harrison was largely responsible for the complete turnaround of the Indianapolis Colts franchise.   They moved the Colts from longtime losers to TV ratings darlings, helping the Colts become a team that would eventually win the Super Bowl.  But the end is near for the Harrison half of that combo.   There are reports that Harrison seeks release from the Colts after talks to restructure the $13 million remaining on his non-guaranteed contract broke down.  The NFL can be brutal to fading superstars.  Damaging to not only their bodies but to their egos.   

Right now Marvin Harrison feels like he can still play all-pro quality football.  And he feels he should be paid a superstar’s salary.  But his sagging productivity, his recent injuries, and his age just don’t support that, even though he now stands near the top of just about every career NFL pass receiving category.   

Further, the nearly reclusive Harrison was embroiled in a shooting incident last year in his hometown of Philadelphia.  And while authorities did not have the evidence to charge Harrison, the case is still unresolved.  Harrison has always denied that he fired the gun that injured another man.  But one piece of evidence is certain, Harrison is the owner of the gun. That incident further tarnished an image that had been largely built by relentless production on the football field.

If Harrison was younger, perhaps something could have been worked out. There might be a new signing bonus for the team’s all-time leading receiver, and maybe a reduced salary cap number for the Colts.  Then perhaps everyone is happy: the Colts get their man at a relatively bargain rate and Marvin’s pride stays intact. But Harrison turns 37 in August, which is very old for a wide receiver.  He’s also been hurt recently and the Colt’s know he’s not the same guy who has scored 128 touchdowns.   

What Harrison is though is an indelible part of the re-written history of the Indianapolis Colts.   And the Colts are trying to keep him around a few more years even at a reduced salary because of what he’s meant to the team for so many years.   But players who’ve accomplished as much as Marvin Harrison, usually don’t want the end to come on token terms, and often want all of the money they are owed or nothing at all.  For now it appears Marvin Harrison will likely leave the Colts with nothing.  That’s the way it is in the NFL.   Goodbye Marvin.