Al Harris - The Dreadlocked Defender
By Jon Meerdink
When the Packers traded for Al Harris, I was really excited about one thing: he had dreadlocks. Since the Packers already had one cornerback sporting shoulder length locks (Mike McKenzie), that would mean they would start TWO guys with really awesome hair. Turns out there was a lot more to like about the former Philadelphia defender. For starters, it turns out that in addition to having great hair, Al Harris was actually a really solid defender. In the 2005 season, Harris allowed only allowed one touchdown the entire season, despite matching up against a number of high profile receivers. I even remember the touchdown that was scored against him: it was a fluky play down near the goal line and Roy Williams of the Lions ended up scoring on a good (but rather ridiculous) catch. Harris didn't even make the Pro Bowl that season, despite having a tremendous season. Cornerback is one of the unusual positions in football where you can actually hurt yourself popularity-wise by being too effective, and that's what happened to Harris, I think. He often covered so well that no balls would be thrown to his side of the field for entire games, so he almost never had opportunities for interceptions.
Secondly, Harris played with a quiet confidence that I thought was truly admirable. He was rarely a flashy player and never drew attention to himself. Even when he did make a big play, it occasionally looked like an accident, as though he didn't mean to do it. This impression probably came at least in part from his ridiculously long limbs. Seriously, the guy looked like Gumby.
Thirdly, in his final season with the Packers, Al tore up his knee pretty bad, but never let it get him down. By some accounts, he had almost surely sustained a career ending injury. But that didn't stop Al Harris. He went right to work rehabbing his leg and trying to get back on the field. He uploaded weekly videos on YouTube detailing his progress, and never once did he mention getting discouraged or down in any way. He always sincerely believed that he'd make it back. Unfortunately, he didn't quite reach 100% by the time the Packers needed him to and he was released before the team made their Super Bowl run. The Packers did reward Al with a ring for his contributions to the team during the season, but he wasn't ultimately a part of the team that won. Still, he kept working and actually played a few games for the Dolphins during the Packers' Super Bowl season. However, he battled injuries his entire time there and was released once again. He finally was signed by the Rams last year and had a relatively solid season, a testament to what amounts to almost two years of hard work.
But there's one moment that without a doubt stands above the rest when it comes to Al's time in Green Bay. If you're any kind of Packer fan, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It needs no introduction whatsoever.