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Original Issue

Q&A Mark Harmon

The 54-year-old actor stars on the CBS drama NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service

SI: Your father,Tom Harmon, won the 1940 Heisman for Michigan, and you were UCLA's startingquarterback (below) for two seasons. There's a headline in the Sept. 18, 1972,SI, after UCLA beat Nebraska, that says YOUNG HARMON MAKES HIS MARK. Do peoplenowadays tend to forget about your football connections?

Harmon: Iremember all the trips I took to the L.A. Coliseum with my dad when he wasbroadcasting games. I used to look at that players' tunnel and say,"Someday, I would love to come out of there as a player." In this dayand age a lot of people don't know that I played, or they would be surprised tohear it. That's O.K. It means I have progressed.

SI: Barry Switzertried to persuade you to play for Oklahoma. What was his recruiting pitch?

Harmon: He said,"You come here next year, and we're going to win the national championship.And if you don't come here next year, we're going to win the nationalchampionship." [Laughs.]

SI: You andDenzel Washington were on St. Elsewhere together. What do you recall about hisathletic abilities?

Harmon: Denzelknew where he was heading from the beginning. We were both once invited to doBattle of the Network Stars. We both wanted to do it initially, but then Denzelsaid, "Movie stars don't do Battle of the Network Stars, and I'm not doingit." I was like, "Well, I can build a wall in front of my house withthe money [from the show]." He was always a good guy and a terrific actor.And he had a pretty good jump shot.

SI: When did youfirst realize the impact your dad had in sports?

Harmon: I knewthat early from the kids in the park. The school put together a 16-millimeterhighlight reel of all 33 touchdowns he scored at Michigan. You would beawestruck. He dominates. On this film he scored a touchdown every time hetouched the ball. I think I was 10 years old before I knew my dad had ever beentackled.

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