INDIANAPOLIS – Sunday’s Colts game against Carolina will have a special occasion as former wide receiver Marvin Harrison is inducted into the club’s Ring of Honor at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Harrison played in 190 career games with the club from 1996-2008 and totaled 1,102 receptions for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns. His receptions, yards and scoring receptions broke club records held by Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Raymond Berry, marks that stood since 1967. Harrison had 59 100-yard reception games, third-most in NFL history. He caught passes in the first 190 games of his career, an NFL record.
Harrison set the NFL seasonal record with 143 receptions in 2002. From 1999-2002, he became the first NFL player with 100 receptions in four consecutive seasons. From 1999-2006, Harrison had eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, and he is the only player ever to produce eight straight seasons with 1,000 reception yards and 10 scoring receptions.
The numbers for Harrison are staggering. The memories he provided will last Colts fans a lifetime. The public address announcements of, ‘Manning-to-Harrison,’ rang out in every NFL venue, providing both delight and horror.
Two key people connected with the Colts, vice chairman Bill Polian and Berry, hold deep regard for Harrison.
Polian, who was directing the Carolina Panthers when Harrison was available in the 1996 draft, loved what he saw in the Syracuse product. He knew then what he saw in a pre-draft workout.
“I was praying that we would get a shot at him, but, of course, we did not,” said Polian. “He had the single best workout I had ever seen by a receiver – absolutely incredible, speed, flexibility, moves, explosion, dexterity, hands, just off the charts. We were blown away by it. I recall going back to the airport and Dom Anile, who was our personnel director here for many years, said to me, ‘Man, we are probably not going to see the likes of that for another five or 10 years.’ Well, he was wrong by five years. I haven’t seen the likes of him for 15 years. He’s a special, special guy.”
Polian joined Indianapolis after the 1997 season as president, and he was able to witness personally Harrison’s feats, both in games and in practice sessions.
“Playing against him and then seeing him on film you noticed how special he was, but then to see him here up close and personal and see his work ethic, and see his dedication, and see how totally immersed he was in his craft, day after day, and what a clutch performer he was (was special),” said Polian. “I’ve been fortunate to be with Andre Reed, who I truly believe is a Hall-of-Famer, and Marvin from a standpoint of work ethic and dedication is exactly the same. Marvin is blessed with talent that, again, I haven’t seen in a wide receiver.”
Polian cited two catches by Harrison as memorable. One came against Oakland in 2001 where Harrison acted quickly to gather in a scoring pass meant for tight end Ken Dilger, and the other was his ‘levitation’ catch at Tennessee that defied belief and gravity.
“When I think of Marvin’s time here, I think of two plays in particular and there were so many great ones over the years,” said Polian. “The first is a play, and I can’t recall who it was against (Oakland) but it was in the dome, and it was in the end zone going east (in the RCA Dome). Peyton threw a ball that ticked off Kenny Dilger’s fingers and it went end over end. Imagine he’s (Harrison) got three yards or so to catch this ball and it goes end over end, and it was going down end over end and he was on the end line. He reached down and caught the ball, which in itself was an incredible feat, planted both his heels and fell backwards out of bounds clutching the ball. I’ve never seen anything like that in 35 years of professional football. And, of course, the one that everyone remembers at Tennessee where Peyton ‘overthrew’ him. Now if you ask him, he would tell you no one could overthrow him, and he’s right. But Peyton overthrew him and he laid out horizontally to the ground and caught the ball with only the tips of his fingers, hit the ground, completed the catch, stood up and waved everybody to come on down for the next play. It’s my enduring memory of Marvin because it captures everything that Marvin Harrison was – the consummate professional, quiet, dedicated, proud of his gifts and proud of how he had developed them and a winner that would do anything to help his team win.
“All of the good things that he represents relative to not blowing his horn, being a consummate team player, not saying much to anybody at anytime, although those of us that got to know him around the building got to see a different side of him, but he was a private person. … That humility, that lack of need to get the public adulation was balanced by the fact that he was a proud professional. He was very proud of what he did on the football field and rightly so, because he earned every single yard he got. … He’s among the smartest players ever to play. … You couldn’t ask anymore from a player in the meeting room, in the locker room, on the practice field and on the game field than Marvin Harrison gave.”
Berry played for the Colts from 1955-67. He had 631 receptions for 9,275 yards and 68 touchdowns. Berry was one of the truly significant players of his era and set a standard by which many receivers since were measured. His reception totals stood as club records since 1967. The evolution of the game as it is played today does not pale his accomplishments, and Berry met Harrison for the first time late in Harrison’s career with Indianapolis.
“The first thing I think about with Marvin Harrison is that there is a similarity to his experience in pro football and my own,” said Berry. “There are three great factors that Marvin and I both enjoyed – stable ownership and coaching and outstanding quarterbacking. I can’t emphasize too much how much those three factors play into maximizing the career of a receiver. As I look at Marvin and myself, we both cashed in on that, big time. The ownership stability he enjoyed, the coaching expertise he enjoyed and the quarterback expertise he enjoyed are off the board. That is, to me, one of the main reasons why his athletic ability was able to (be) performed at the maximum. I think he’s one of the most consistent in his career as a receiver of any receiver I’ve watched on the scene in a long time.”
Berry was a top-notch performer who was a master at not tipping any routes until the proper moment. He appreciates seeing the same ability in Harrison.
“One of the real keys to getting open is the defense’s inability to really know what you’re doing,” said Berry. “I know that was a huge philosophy of my route-running, to disguise what you’re going to do until you did it. It’s a military principle. If they don’t know where you’re going to attack, they can’t get the troops there to stop you. Marvin was a master at being able to accomplish that on his route-running. The rest is a great quarterback and the protection they give him to throw the ball.”
Harrison and Berry were both technicians at their positions. Both had outstanding abilities with their hands. Berry believes Harrison was blessed with the same gift that he had himself.
“To a great extent, you’re born with the ability to catch,” said Berry. “I think you can develop it and train it and hone it and maximize it, but I think you’re born with it. Obviously, he was. Consistent catching ability goes hand-in-hand with a receiver that performs at maximum performance. With the numbers he had, he just had that ingredient. A lot of it is concentration on the ball, too. He tuned out the defense and was concentrating on the football. When the ball arrived, he had the tools to catch it.”
Berry was a durable player who put up statistics annually throughout his career. He appreciates how Harrison was consistent year after year.
“It speaks to physical durability, for one thing,” said Berry. “He had the body that could take hits and stay healthy. You can’t put up those numbers unless you have the physical tools to avoid injury. I don’t know the numbers for him injury-wise, but I suspect that he hardly ever was missing any games. You don’t play that consistently without being healthy. He had the body to do that. It takes a combination of these things to perform like him.”
One other area the players shared a similarity was the doggedness with which each approached practice. Far from the lights is where most champions are built, and Berry noted Harrison’s talents and his determination to develop his craft.
“You either have unbelievable natural ability, or you’ve got to have natural ability plus a work ethic. I think Marvin had both of those,” said Berry. “I think it’s necessary to do (practice hard) to accomplish what he did. I think it’s more than a willingness (to work and practice hard). I thing you’re born with an inner drive to do this. It’s a gift to have a great drive and work ethic combined with great natural and physical ability. When you have that combination, I think you’re looking at Marvin Harrison – a rare talent and a rare combination.”
MARVIN HARRISON CAREER NOTES
WR-Marvin Harrison (1,102 receptions, 14,580 yards, 128 touchdowns) was an eight-time Pro Bowler (1999-2006). His eight straight bids ranked behind DE-Gino Marchetti (11, 1954-64) and QB-
Manning and Harrison combined for 112 touchdowns, the most potent touchdown duo in NFL history. Manning and Harrison passed John Unitas and Raymond Berry (63) at Tampa Bay 10/6/03 for the club record and passed Jim Kelly and Andre Reed (65, Buffalo) vs. New England 11/30/03 for 3rd-most in NFL history. Manning and Harrison passed Dan Marino and Mark Clayton (79, Miami) vs. Tennessee 12/5/04. They set the all-time NFL record with a six-yard connection vs. St. Louis 10/17/05. Manning and Harrison combined for 953 completions for 12,766 yards, the NFL records for completions and yards between two players. The prior NFL records for completions and yards between two players were 663 for 9,538 yards by Jim Kelly and Andre Reed. Steve Young and Jerry Rice had 137 games together and Jim Kelly and Andre Reed had 147 games together, while Manning and Harrison played in 158 games together.
Harrison participated in 118 regular season victories with the Colts, one of 13 players to have 100 wins during their careers (1953-present): 141 games, QB-Peyton Manning; 132, QB-John Unitas; 130, C-
Manning and WR-Marvin Harrison combined for 112 TDs, the most by a QB-WR tandem in NFL history (85, Steve Young-Jerry Rice, 1987-99, San Francisco; 79, Dan Marino-Mark Clayton, 1983-92, Miami; 67, Peyton Manning-Reggie Wayne, 2001-11; 65, Jim Kelly-Andre Reed, 1986-96, Buffalo; 63, John Unitas-Raymond Berry, 1955-67, Colts).
Manning and Harrison combined for 953 completions and 12,766 yards. Manning and Harrison own the NFL records for most completions and yards by a tandem. The previous NFL record for most completions was 663 for Jim Kelly and Andre Reed, and that duo had owned the NFL yardage mark of 9,538.
WR-Marvin Harrison (1,102-14,580, 128 TDs) ranks first in Colts career receptions, yards and touchdown receptions. He moved past WR-Raymond Berry (631-9,275, 68 TDs) in each category. All of Berry’s club records stood since 1967.
Harrison had receptions in a club-record 190 consecutive games. Harrison is first in club history in games with a reception (142, Raymond Berry).
Harrison had receptions in the first 190 games of his career, the longest streak in NFL history for a player from the start of his career.
Harrison (190) ranks second in NFL history in most consecutive games with a reception (274, Jerry Rice).
Harrison is the only player in NFL history with 100 receptions in four consecutive years.
Harrison (14,608) is first in Colts history in career yards from scrimmage.
Harrison (59) holds the club record for most 100 receiving games and is third in NFL history (76, Jerry Rice; 64, Randy Moss).
Harrison ranks 9th in NFL career total touchdowns (208, Jerry Rice; 175, Emmitt Smith; 161, LaDainian Tomlinson; 156, Terrell Owens; 154, Randy Moss; 145, Marcus Allen; 136, Marshall Faulk; 131, Cris Carter; 126, Jim Brown; 125, Walter Payton; 116, John Riggins; 113, Lenny Moore; 112, Shaun Alexander; 109, Barry Sanders; 105, Tim Brown; 105, Don Hutson; 101, Steve Largent; 100, Franco Harris; 100, Curtis Martin).
Harrison (1999-2006) had 8 consecutive 10 -TD reception seasons (15, 2001; 15, 2004; 14, 2000; 12, 1999; 12, 2005; 12, 2006; 11, 2002; 10, 2003) and owns the double-digit club receiving record (3, Reggie Wayne, 12, 2004, 10, 2007, 10, 2009; 2, Raymond Berry, 14, 1959; 10, 1960; 2, Jimmy Orr, 11, 1962; 10, 1965; 2,
Harrison (1999-2006) is the only NFL player with 10 touchdown receptions in eight consecutive seasons.
Harrison had 778 career points, third in Colts history and first among non-kickers (995, K-Mike Vanderjagt; 783, K-Dean Biasucci; 678, RB-Lenny Moore).
Harrison (29) was tied for fourth in NFL history for the most multiple-touchdown reception games (44, Jerry Rice; 36, Randy Moss; 32, Terrell Owens; 29, Cris Carter; 28; Don Hutson).
Harrison has 8 of the 21 1,000 reception yardage seasons achieved in club history. Raymond Berry (1,298, 1960), Reggie Wayne (1,210, 2004; 1,055, 2005; 1,310, 2006; 1,510, 2007; 1,145, 2008; 1,264, 2009; 1,355, 2010), Bill Brooks (1,131, 1986), Brandon Stokley (1,077, 2004), Reggie Langhorne (1,038, 1993), Roger Carr (1,112, 1976) and Dallas Clark (1,106, 2009) are the other Colts to have a 1,000 season. From 1999-03, Harrison set then the five highest seasonal reception and yardage totals in the Colts history (115-1,663, 1999; 102-1,413, 2000; 109-1,524, 2001; 143-1,722, 2002; 94-1,272, 2003).
Harrison’s 143 receptions in 2002 bested the prior NFL seasonal record of Herman Moore (123, 1995).
Harrison (1999, 2001, 2002) had three career 1,500 -yardage seasons to rank behind Jerry Rice (4, 1986, 1990, 1993, 1995) for 2nd-most in NFL history. Players with two include Michael Irvin (1991, 1995), Charley Hennigan (1961, 1964), Torry Holt (2000, 2003) and Andre Johnson (2008, 2009). Harrison and Johnson are the only NFL players to post consecutive 1,500 seasons. Only 17 players have achieved one 1,500 season.
Harrison averaged 5.8 receptions per game (1,102 in 190 games) for his career, among the best averages in NFL history.
With 1,102 career receptions marking a Colts franchise record, Harrison’s total ranked second-best among all NFL teams’ career reception leaders (1,281, Jerry Rice, San Francisco, 1985-00).
Harrison (1,102) ranks third among the NFL’s career reception leaders (1,549, Jerry Rice; 1,118, Tony Gonzalez).
Harrison ranks sixth among the NFL’s career reception yardage leaders (22,895, Jerry Rice; 15,934, Terrell Owens; 15,208, Isaac Bruce; 14,934, Tim Brown; 14,858, Randy Moss).
With 14,580 career reception yards marking a Colts franchise record, Harrison’s total ranks third among all NFL teams’ career reception yard leaders (19,247, Jerry Rice, San Francisco, 1985-00; 14,734, Tim Brown, Oakland, 1988-03).
Harrison (128) is one of 7 NFL players with 100 career touchdown receptions (197, Jerry Rice; 153, Terrell Owens; 153, Randy Moss; 130, Cris Carter; 100, Steve Largent; 100, Tim Brown).
Harrison (90) set the club record for most games with a touchdown reception 11/30/03 vs. New England, snapping the mark of WR-Raymond Berry (56). Harrison’s games with touchdown receptions by season: 1996-6; 1997-6; 1998-5; 1999-8; 2000-10; 2001-9; 2002-8; 2003-6; 2004-11; 2005-9; 2006-7; 2007-1; 2008-4.
Harrison had 100 outings against 27 of 31 opponents (7-New England; 6-Houston; 4-Miami; 4-Tennessee; 3-Jacksonville; 3-Kansas City; 3-New York Giants; 3-San Diego; 2-Buffalo; 2-Cincinnati; 2-Cleveland; 2-Denver; 2-Detroit; 2-New York Jets; 2-Philadelphia; 1-Atlanta; 1-Baltimore; 1-Carolina; 1-Dallas; 1-Minnesota; 1-New Orleans; 1-Oakland; 1-Pittsburgh; 1-San Francisco; 1-Seattle; 1-Tampa Bay; 1-Washington). He did not have 100 games against Arizona (played twice), Chicago (played three times), Green Bay (played four times) and St. Louis (played twice). His 100 outing by years: 1996-2; 1997-0; 1998-2; 1999-9; 2000-8; 2001-6; 2002-10; 2003-6; 2004-4; 2005-6; 2006-6; 2007-0; 2008-0.
Harrison had touchdown receptions against 29 of 31 opponents (14-New England; 9-Buffalo; 9-Jacksonville; 9-Miami; 8-Tennessee; 7-Cincinnati; 6-Houston; 6-Kansas City; 5-Baltimore; 5-Detroit; 5-New York Jets; 4-Minnesota; 4-New Orleans; 4-Philadelphia; 4-San Francisco; 3-Dallas; 3-Denver; 3-New York Giants; 3-Oakland; 2-Atlanta; 2-Cleveland; 2-Green Bay; 2-Pittsburgh; 2-San Diego; 2-Tampa Bay; 2-Washington; 1-Arizona; 1-Chicago; 1-St. Louis). He did not have a touchdown reception against Carolina (played once) or Seattle (played twice).