Harrison proving Chargers wrong

Many felt the heart and soul of the San Diego Chargers was torn out when Rodney Harrison was exiled from town. It took the Chargers' defense several years to find itself after his departure – but Harrison has been making it happen in New England ever since.

Rodney Harrison is still in the minds and hearts of San Diegans. His following from the left coast has never waned along the way.

"I understand that for the simple fact that I get so much mail from fans from San Diego," Harrison explained. "They were so supportive throughout all those tough years. I respect the city of San Diego for all the support they've given me."

It was with shock and dismay that fans in San Diego took his departure. They still believed he had the fire in his belly to lead the team to great things.

When Harrison left, the Chargers had a tough time replacing his leadership on and off the field. The safety out of Western Illinois felt slighted by the only team he ever knew.

With that as ammunition, he went on with the business of playing football as only he knows how.

"I think any time that someone doubts you, your ultimate goal is to prove them wrong," said Harrison. "The way that you do that is by taking care of business on the field. I've put a lot of hard work into it. I've put in so many hours and sacrificed so much to be in a position to make plays throughout the year. I've just been very blessed."

It wasn't always so easy for Harrison. At one time, when he first entered the league, he had to fight for his position on the team.

Hard to believe a strong hitter and strong-willed player like Harrison having a tough time with anything. But his first goal was just to make the team. Once he got into a comfort level with San Diego and continued to put in the work, he believed he would be one of those rare players that starts and ends his career in the same place – something even Junior Seau would not accomplish.

"I had to fight just to stay on the team once I got there," said Harrison. "Eventually, you start playing halfway decent and people start respecting you. You get a contract and make the place home. I thought I was going to retire there, quite honestly. I thought that I was going to have an opportunity to finish my career there and just play great football there. It didn't happen that way. They doubted me and someone else gave me an opportunity. I wanted to take full advantage of it."

Now he is a leader on the New England Patriots. With a secondary that has been in shambles for much of the year, Harrison has had to be the guy to make sure the defensive backs are aligned properly and know their assignments.

He attributes his success to the defense employed by the Chargers back in the day.

"In San Diego we had a pretty challenging playbook, and so it was nothing new to me to make sure I called the plays, learned the defense, and really got everyone aligned. It was just one of the challenges that I pretty much welcomed and didn't really care about.

Everything that I've done in the past, I continue to do now. I work hard and respect people. I think they in turn respect my effort and everything that I bring to the table."

Where would San Diego be if they had Harrison in the fold through the tough years and the playoffs this season? A veteran leader the caliber of Harrison does not come around too often. He is in the Super Bowl again this year and the Chargers are back at home, relegating to spectators.

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