Super Bowl Ring For Harris?

Packer Report's Bill Huber weighs in on Al Harris getting what amounts to a career achievement award after not playing a single snap during the Packers' Super season. It's an interesting twist considering how his run in Green Bay came to an end.

Al Harris will get a Super Bowl ring from the Green Bay Packers.

It's a feel-good story, to be sure, that the Packers are saying thanks to a man who played every snap with heart, soul, pride and with a chip on his shoulder as large as his hair is long.

During his first five seasons in Green Bay — 2003 through 2007 — Harris started all 84 games. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2007 and 2008, and probably should have been Honolulu-bound in 2004, 2005 and 2006. In five years or so, he rightfully will be inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame.

But a Super Bowl ring for a guy who played as many snaps as you or I? That's just a little strange.

I know I'm in the minority on this. As I write this, a poll at JSOnline.com shows 84 percent of almost 4,000 responses voted "yes" when asked if they were in favor of Harris getting a Super Bowl ring. When I made my feelings known on Twitter, I got deluged with replies.

Give Harris all the credit in the world for making it back from that hideous knee injury sustained against San Francisco on Nov. 22, 2009. But after being a spectator through training camp and opening the season on the physically unable to perform list, Harris became increasingly frustrated that he was not activated to the 53-man roster so he could complete his comeback in style.

To say Harris had become a distraction probably isn't fair or accurate. However, in talks with reporters, he made it clear that he didn't see eye-to-eye with cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt. While Charles Woodson learned to embrace the younger Whitt and his pull-no-punches coaching style, not so with Harris, who couldn't come to grips being coached by someone three-and-a-half years his junior with no NFL playing experience.

With Tramon Williams having earned Harris' spot in the starting lineup and with undrafted rookie Sam Shields playing so well as the third cornerback, the coaching staff and front office had to be concerned that Harris could become a distraction while seeing only minimal action on gamedays as the fourth corner.

So, on Nov. 8, the Packers released Harris. If Harris was angry about how things played out, he exited in class fashion by taking out a large ad in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel with the headline "Thank You Packer Nation" in capital letters.

In a smaller font, Harris wrote:

"Thank you for always supporting me.

"Thank you for making me a part of your family.

"Thank you for treating my family like your own.

"Thank you for making one of the coldest places the warmest place.

"Thank you for making every single day I was a Packer a very special day.

"To each and every one of you, thank you for making my Packers experience simply amazing.

"From the bottom of my heart, I thank and love you all and will carry you with me always."

A couple days after his release, Harris signed with Miami, where he completed his remarkable comeback. However, he played in just three games before winding up on season-ending injured reserve with an injured hamstring.

If Harris was a class act on his way out of Green Bay, the Packers are showing class in giving Harris a Super Bowl ring as sort of a lifetime achievement award. Honoring Harris, who will be a free agent, certainly sends a good message through the rest of the league, though with how Ted Thompson treats free agency, that message is akin to a tree falling in the woods and nobody being there to hear it.

If nothing else, rewarding Harris further rehabilitates the Packers' image after the Brett Favre fiasco of three years ago. Ever since the triumvirate of Bob Harlan, Ron Wolf and Mike Holmgren led a Titletown revival, Green Bay had been known as a special place to play. With a Super Bowl ring going to a proud veteran who made no on-the-field contribution during the season, the Harris decision is a ringing endorsement that Green Bay indeed is different than the rest of the league.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.


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