The former hard-hitting Patriots safety, 36, announced last week that he's retiring to join NBC's Football Night in America studio show.
Dan Patrick: Don't lie. You retired so you could work on Football Night in America with me.
Rodney Harrison: I was thinking about going back to the Patriots when I found out it was you. I thought it was going to be Bob Costas.
DP: Could you have played this year?
RH: I could have. Probably not practice and training camp, but I feel pretty good. I still would have been able to run, jump and knock somebody's teeth out of their mouth [in games].
DP: You played 15 years. Do you know how much money you were fined?
RH: A whole lot. Probably more money than my mother's ever made in her life. Probably close to $300,000.
DP: You did have the helmet-to-helmet hit on Jerry Rice [in 2002]. That cost you a game check of $111,000.
RH: That was worth it. I love Jerry, but being able to knock his head off, I'd spend a hundred grand on that any day.
DP: Ever knock yourself out with a hit?
RH: Plenty of times.
DP: Give us a good Tom Brady story.
RH: In '03 we're in Houston for the Super Bowl. The offense wasn't practicing particularly well, and Tom was really having a frustrating day. I think I picked him off twice, and I was dancing. Tom got so ticked-off at me that he chased me all around the practice field throwing footballs at me, yelling obscenities at me. I've never seen Tom so pissed-off in my life.
DP: He wasn't going to catch you, was he?
RH: That's why I was laughing. Even with a good ACL, he couldn't catch me.
DP: Have the league's recent rule changes protecting receivers made it tough to be a defensive player?
RH: I feel sorry for guys like [Steelers safety] Troy Polamalu who really bring it. They're softening up the league. If you want to protect players, do it on both sides of the ball. Tell those little sissy wide receivers to stop cut blocking and tearing up guys' knees.
DP: Is there one receiver you just don't have time for?
RH: That's easy: T.O.
DP: Ever have words with him?
RH: Yeah, I had words with him, but I had words with a lot of guys. I respect Terrell Owens as a football player, but I don't respect guys who bring a lot of attention to themselves.
DP: Just about every story about you says you're a dirty player. How do you feel about that?
RH: Screw 'em, I don't care. My teammates know what I'm about. You've spent time with me.
DP: I was walking with you on the sideline before the Super Bowl, and not one player walked over. I said, "If you want to spend some time saying hello to these players, that's O.K." And you said, "There's nobody out there who likes me."
RH: Once you left, I had like eight players come up and give me hugs. I don't know if it was me or if it was you [laughs]. But it's not important who likes me. I never played the game to make friends. It was about respecting the guys who played. And if you came into my territory, I was going to give you the business.
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Nolan Ryan on the legacy of another fireballer: the Big Unit.
2. Jimmie Johnson discusses NASCAR's drug-testing policy.
Mixing It Up
What Cardinals QB Matt Leinart is doing to toughen up (MMA training) is almost as interesting as whom he's doing it with: NFL on Fox analyst Jay Glazer. In addition to calling MMA fights, Glazer has fought in two pro bouts himself—going 1--1. And how is Leinart doing? "It helps me build this attitude that nothing can stop you," Leinart told me. "I'm addicted to it."
Eight-time NL batting camp Tony Gwynn, who has coached likely MLB top pick Stephen Strasburg (page 56) at San Diego State for three years, hopes that whichever team takes him will have realistic short-term expectations. "He's a college pitcher," Gwynn told me. "I'm sure in major league clubhouses, when they see his stuff, guys will [shrug and] go, Eh. In college clubhouses it's a little different, because [Strasburg's] velocity kind of scares them."
Line of the week
Perennial supplier of the Line of the Week and unapologetic broadcaster Charles Barkley on being criticized for swearing during a TNT broadcast: "If me saying b.s. on television after midnight is going to push your little damn brat over the deep end, you're just a crappy parent."
THE FINE PRINT: Phil Jackson is confident about winning a record 10th NBA championship. He called the Dalai Lama and asked for his ring size.
Hear Dan announce the week's Got It Done Award every Monday.
PRESENTED BY grape-nuts
ILLUSTRATION BY KAGAN MCLEOD
MARK J. REBILAS/US PRESSWIRE (LEINART)
ANDREW D. BERNSTEIN/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (BARKLEY)
JOHN PYLE/CAL SPORT MEDIA (HARRISON)