Peyton Manning On Marvin Harrison: "He Truly Was One Of A Kind"

Intro: On Friday, Marvin Harrison and Tony Dungy shared their thoughts on the favorite catch(es) of No. 88. Why was Harrison so motivated to play against New England?


CANTON, Ohio. – Through nearly an entire hour of fielding questions during Friday's Hall of Fame media availability, Tony Dungy was particularly conscientious when the question arose about the man seated a football toss away from him.

Picking the greatest catch for a man in Marvin Harrison who has more than 1,100 snags in his Hall of Fame career had Dungy deep in thought.

Finally, after more than 10 seconds of pondering, and stating the difficulty to narrow it down to just one, Dungy knew his choice.

"It's probably up in New England, back shoulder fade, a little bit to his left and the one hand, tip it back to yourself, drag both feet in the end zone," Dungy says of Harrison's iconic 2006 touchdown at New England.

"People don't realize how difficult that was. That to me was the masterpiece catch."

The Houdini act Harrison pulled in with that football turned Foxborough into a whisper.

Patriots' fans were quickly booing once Harrison, who never showed more than an ounce of emotion post-touchdown, followed up his score with an emphatic spike.

"He was fired up that night," Dungy said of his fellow Hall of Famer. "That was a little different Marvin Harrison than we are used to seeing."

Harrison offers a simple explanation for the passionate spike.

"It was New England," Harrison stated.

"Anytime we had a chance to play New England, that week was a different week for me. I didn't want to go out. I didn't want to do anything. I didn't want to talk on the phone. I just wanted to play. I had a different attitude when we played New England. When we got ready for New England, it was like getting ready for a big war."

Outside of New England, another iconic catch for Harrison came from a one-handed dive in a 2003 contest against the Titans.

"It was a week after I had a hamstring pull," explains Harrison. "We called the play. Coach Dungy was saying, 'No, no, no.' I'm like, 'Peyton, I hope you throw it, throw it, throw it.' Then when he threw it, I'm like either you have to go full speed and pull my hamstring again and be out two more games…so I was in between.

"It was like a median--- reach as far as you can, not as fast you can. Normally, I would probably have ran up under it and scored. I had more left to go, but I didn't want to pull my hamstring from the week before. I just caught it."

The Colts' first playoff win with Harrison and company came later that season, versus Denver.

With the Broncos' defenders left bickering over who lost Harrison in coverage, someone had forgot to tap down No. 88.

"It was a catch over the middle and they thought I was down," Harrison recalls. "Coach Tom Moore (always said), 'Even if you think you got touched, get up and run.'

"That's what I did. I knew nobody touched me, so I just got up."

A common denominator through all of these Harrison catches was the man throwing him the football.

No quarterback and wide receiver in NFL history has had the connection of No. 18 and No. 88.

How early on did Harrison know Peyton Manning was special?

"The day he stepped into the huddle," Harrison says of Manning. "In Anderson, Indiana, my third year, his first year. It's hot. It's the first day of Training Camp. He comes in, 'Huddle up.' And starts yelling. I'm like, 'What's the hell wrong with him?' He's all excited. At that point, as a rookie, he took control of the huddle. Even if he threw interceptions as a rookie, even in a game, or practice, I just knew the next week it bothered him. Every week he came back to practice, he would work on what he did wrong the previously week. That's how I was my whole career. We both had the same mind frame to get better than we were the week before.

"The first day he came in the huddle, he took control."

With Manning's control and Harrison's surgeon like precision, the match was perfect.

"The greatest thing about Marvin's routes," Manning says, "was that the first five-to-seven yards all looked exactly the same. They couldn't tell if it was a five-yard slant, a 10-yard out, a 12-yard hook, or a 40-yard take off. They were always afraid he was going to go deep.

"He was truly one of a kind receiver."

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