What They're Saying About Marvin Harrison

An era ended for the Indianapolis Colts today as the team released the best receiver in franchise history, Marvin Harrison. See what team owner Jim Irsay, president Bill Polian, coach Jim Caldwell and quarterback Peyton Manning had to say about the brilliant receiver.

Colts' owner Jim Irsay

"Good afternoon and thank you for coming. We are here to announce the departure of Marvin Harrison from the Indianapolis Colts. It's a day as an owner that you know eventually will come, but it's not a day that you look forward to. I can see Marvin in 1996 coming in from the draft into our complex and talking to him and meeting him for the first time. The journey began. Certainly, he came right around the same time I assumed ownership. As an owner, these are rare events when you have a chance to really talk about an individual who literally changed the face of a franchise. Through other great players and coaches around him, he really brought us into a renaissance period, a period of greatness and excellence.

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"It would take me too long to go through all of his records that he has built on. He's an individual I think most of you did not have a chance to see how hard he worked. I think that's the component about Marvin, his connection with Peyton Manning, how those guys hooked up in 1998 and began the journey, and together set records that will be talked about many, many years from now. It was a process this week that we were talking through the possibilities. It's just very seldom that retirement lines up with a team where the player goes out at the same time. That's something that I hope for. I wanted to make sure Marvin and I had a chance to talk one last time this afternoon and really thoroughly go through a lot of different things together, and that was important to me.

"I know that he wishes to go forward and pursue opportunities in the National Football League, something that we honor and are granting his release. As I said, that he's an individual where there will be time for the ceremonial aspects to his greatness and what's he's meant to the league and what he meant to this team. That isn't today, but we still wanted to take the opportunity to really reflect and honor his greatness and all the things that he has done. He and I had a great conversation and had a chance to reflect on a lot that has happened over these 12-plus years. I really wish him well, and we'll be looking forward to the day he goes into the Hall of Fame and goes into the Ring of Honor in our stadium."

On how his conversations with Harrison went today:

"It's an unusual situation. One that if you're blessed enough you'll go through it a couple of times in your life as an owner, even though it's difficult when it's at the end. Really it was something where he and I were going to talk everything through one last time. Bill (Polian) and Tom Condon had conversations and we had talked internally. It was just getting right up against the moment and me having an opportunity in really talking to him in terms of past, present and future, and him doing the same. That's really what it was about."

On the signature moment with him and Harrison:

"I would say maybe the one (catch) in New England. There are so many of those moments, but certainly in the right corner of the end zone on the tip ball. I think it was Sunday or Monday night. Obviously, playing against some great rivals and that was Marvin. He was so unique. He would do these great things and just flip the ball to the official and walk off the field. That's something I always admired about him. To see Marvin was really a throwback. I know how much admiration Raymond Berry had for him because of that reason. I think 50 years from now, 80 years from now, his name is going to be talked about with the records with Peyton (Manning) and all those sorts of things."

On if the offer to Harrison changed at any point:

"It was really saying this guy goes way back with me. It wasn't involved in a detail thing about would you take this restructured offer or not. It was really just trying to talk through with him the whole decision-making process. From some aspects emotionally it's never over till it's over, and he's still a Colt for one more 24 hours. It was just that opportunity to hear him through in every way."

Team president Bill Polian

"This is a sad day for the Colts, a sad day for Colts fans, a sad day for me personally and for many others in this building who have come to know and like Marvin Harrison so much. Marvin and I talked Saturday night — I think it was Saturday night — and we talked at length about all of the things that he had accomplished here, about our personal friendship. He reminded me of my going to Syracuse and working him out. He remembered that. That was to this day the most amazing workout I've ever seen by a wide receiver, maybe by an athlete, and then he mentioned that it worked out that we weren't able to get together then, we weren't able to draft him then, as I was in Carolina, but pretty soon we were together here. I've always treasured the time that I've had with him, the personal time, because I respected him so much as a person.

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"(Colts Owner and CEO) Jim (Irsay) alluded to the fact that he worked so hard on his craft. He was always so prepared. He did every little thing it took to win in the National Football League and to become a great player and to build on that great God-given ability that he had. And he did it with quiet dignity, with superb professionalism and with a sense of contribution to the team that really is second to none. He is a Hall of Famer, no question. The numbers alone indicate that. But for those of us who had the pleasure of being around him, there's no question that he's the transcendent receiver of this generation, and most importantly I think the thing that makes you so proud to be associated with him is that he did it on the field. He didn't need anything else to validate his greatness. All you had to do was turn on the tape, turn on the television set or be in the stadium and see him play and you knew that you were in the presence of an all-timer.

"I'll never forget the catch that he made at Tennessee which in my mind is the signature catch of his career, where he completed the long-ball and reached out while suspended in the air and caught the ball with one hand and got a critical first down and then waived everybody to come on down. That was quintessential Marvin. When we talked he indicated that he did not want to come back for this kind of an event, and we certainly appreciated that and that's entirely consistent with his personality and the way he conducts himself. I emphasized to him, and I know Jim (Irsay) re-emphasized it today that we hope that he will be back here—and we know he'll be back here, he's looking forward to it—at some time in the future to be recognized formally and to go on the Ring of Honor and to have the fans recognize finally his contributions to this club and have him retire as a Colt. He takes his place with Raymond Berry as the two greatest receivers in this club's history. I know he wants to continue to play, and we're supportive of that and were from the outset.

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"Jim (Irsay) and I talked at length about how to handle this process and we agreed that we would talk separately with Marvin. We agreed that if he wished to be released that that would be okay with us and we would support that. I hope that his playing career doesn't go too much longer, at least selfishly, because I want to be around to see him inducted into Canton. As I said, it's a sad day in the sense that you never like to see a player of Marvin's stature leave, but I was gratified for him that he got a chance to be alone in the record book as the number two receiver of all-time, do that in front of our fans here in Indianapolis and receive from them and from his teammates and from all of us the warm applause and congratulations for a stellar and exemplary career. We've been fortunate to be able to watch him all these years and we wish him nothing but the best in all the years to come."

On if Harrison could come back via free agency:

"We'll see what the future holds. I can't predict the future. In talking with Marvin and talking to Tom Condon it was clear because of the salary cap issues that we face that no one wanted to get into a situation where we were forcing Marvin to take a Draconian cut in pay which would be, in many respects, demeaning to him, a player of his stature. Let's see what the future holds. We've made it clear how we feel about Marvin. He may feel that the change of scenery may be a good thing. We'll see. I can't predict the future. We'll just let it take shape as it goes."

On if Harrison has been released today:

"No, he has not. The waiver wire is effective at 4:00 p.m., so the release won't appear on the wire until tomorrow. We've sent the documentation but it went after 4:00 p.m., so officially it will happen tomorrow."

On why the Colts couldn't afford Harrison's current deal:

"His current cap number is too much for us to afford, given the fact we are up against a cap that has new rules relative to the last capped year which we're entering. Essentially, those new rules create difficulty for us. For eleven years we've managed the cap and never had a problem with cap issues. Quite honestly, we did not see this day coming soon enough to plan for it. This was not an expected situation.

"When these rules became apparent, it became apparent to us internally as Jim (Irsay) alluded to that this was going to be a number that was very hard to live with. In addition, his acceleration or any acceleration that would accrue by a reworking of the contract would count this year. You can't push it over into next year. So you were in a box where you couldn't live with the cap number and you could not rework the contract in any meaningful way to make sure that it fit. We were in a bind. We were hoping against hope to maybe be able to do something, but in the end when we crunched all the numbers it just didn't work. It's really that simple. It's really a function of the last capped year and the special rules that go into effect in that area."

On if this changes the Colts' approach in the draft:

"I'll never get another Marvin as long as I live. We knew that this day would come. We hoped that it wouldn't, but in reality you have to know it comes eventually. This doesn't alter our plans measurably. I think Anthony Gonzalez will step in and do a fine job. There will never be another Marvin."

Head coach Jim Caldwell

"As it's been echoed by both (Colts President) Bill (Polian) and (Colts Owner and CEO) Jim (Irsay), it's a tough day for us today losing one of the all-time greats. Marvin is a consummate winner. He was involved in 118 wins here in this franchise, and I think Johnny Unitas is the only one ahead of him, I believe with 132. So he certainly did leave his mark.

AP Photo/Rick Havner

"From my standpoint, I had an opportunity to kind of watch him on the practice field day in and day out, just the most competitive guy that you ever want to see. He came on the practice field to work, to get better, to demonstrate his ability, to get open consistently no matter who was guarding him, no matter what the situation. He also had just great pride in everything that he did. He never wanted to drop a ball on the practice field, wanted to complete and obviously catch every pass and then finish it off right.

"Marv was a real fine, fine competitor and he certainly demonstrated that, day in and day out, not just on Sunday afternoons but also obviously on the practice field. Probably the best way I would describe him, there's an old saying that says, ‘Lead by example and when all else fails, use words.' And I think that's exactly what Marvin did. Marvin led by example. Rarely did he ever use words, and he usually didn't have to because he demonstrated through his style of play, through his effort and through his enthusiasm for the game.

"Like I said, it's a tough day. A lot of the players that he's played with over the years are certainly going to be saddened by his departure, but also will be appreciative of what he was able to do and the kind of example that he set for the rest of our squad as well."

Quarterback Peyton Manning

"It has been a privilege to play football with Marvin Harrison for the past eleven years. I always will be indebted to Marvin for what he has done for my career. I know that I would not be the quarterback I am today if not for Marvin. Marvin and I worked very hard together on our timing, and it paid off with many completions, touchdown passes, and, most importantly, wins. That was the main thing. He and I wanted to do our jobs in order to help the Colts win. And most of the time, we did.

"Nobody could get open like Marvin. Cornerbacks used to tell me that he was the most difficult wide receiver to cover because all of his routes looked the same at the beginning of the route. That, to me, is the ultimate compliment for a route-runner. It will be strange to line up under center and not see No. 88 out on my right, but I have cherished the eleven years we played together, and I am proud to share the NFL QB/WR tandem records that we hold together. He is a Hall of Fame receiver, I am proud to have played with him, and he will always be an Indianapolis Colt in my book."

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