Tom Brady names former Patriots teammate who deserves Hall of Fame bid

Tom Brady says safety Rodney Harrison was his most underrated teammate and one of the greatest safeties in NFL history.
2005 NFL Kickoff - Oakland Raiders vs New England Patriots - September 8, 2005
2005 NFL Kickoff - Oakland Raiders vs New England Patriots - September 8, 2005 / Jim Rogash/GettyImages

As the New England Patriots prepared for their upcoming opponent, Bill Belichick walked into the defensive backs meeting room and put on game film of the San Diego Chargers. "You see this?" Belichick asked his players.

Cornerback Ty Law was perplexed — the Patriots weren't playing San Diego, so why were they wasting time watching the Chargers? Belichick simply wanted to marvel at San Diego safety Rodney Harrison, who was flying around the field and delivering bone-cracking hits to ballcarriers. "This is how you play," Belichick said. "Ain't no f---ing loafing here!"

Belichick's constant praise of Harrison caused Law to despise the veteran safety. The aversion only grew when the Patriots signed Harrison in 2003 to replace team leader Lawyer Milloy, who was released before the season. Still, it didn't take long for Harrison to earn the team's respect once they witnessed his relentless work ethic, Law told Julian Edelman on the "Games with Names" podcast.

Harrison helped set the tone for a defense that won back-to-back Super Bowl championships and launched the Patriots dynasty.

"One of the greatest to ever play the game," Law said. "He should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."

Tom Brady says Rodney Harrison is his most underrated teammate

Law isn't the only one who has referred to Harrison as one of the league's greatest safeties. During an appearance on the "Deep Cut" podcast, Tom Brady said Rodney Harrison was the most underrated teammate he ever played with during his 23-year career.

"Rodney Harrison, to me, he's one of the greatest football players the league has ever seen and doesn't get the recognition," Brady said. "He should be in the Hall of Fame. He was as good a competitor, defensive player — smart, tough, physical, f---ing mean out there on the field. I loved it, and I loved playing with him."

These days, Harrison is most recognizable for his jovial personality and friendly smile as a NBC commentator. But those were the last characteristics that were used to describe Harrison during his football career. On the field, Harrison invoked fear into his opponents with his relentless, punishing, and controversial style.

Harrison spent six of his 15-year career with the Patriots. The two-time first-team All-Pro is the only defensive back in NFL history to record 30 career sacks and 30 interceptions. He appeared in 186 regular season games and toatled 1,206 tackles, 34 interceptions, 78 pass deflections, 15 forced fumbles, and 30.5 sacks. He added seven interceptions in 13 postseason games. He intercepted Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb twice in a 24-21 victory in Super Bowl XLIX.

Harrison has been a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame three times. He was a finalist in 2024, but he was left out once again. The 2024 Hall of Fame class was comprised of Andre Johnson, Devin Hester, Dwight Freeney, Julius Peppers, Patrick Willis, Randy Gradishar, and Steve McMichael.

Belichick offered the same sentiment in December when Harrison was named a Hall of Fame finalist. Belichick raved about what Harrison meant to his team both on and off the field. 

“Best safety I’ve coached," Belichick said, h/t "There’s a couple other ones that I’ve coached that are in the Hall of Fame. Fantastic player, person. Great competitor. Could do it all. One of the most versatile players I’ve ever coached. Could cover. He really could play corner. He was a great blitzer. He was a great tackler. Was really, really hard to block in the running game, as a blitzer, kickoff coverage, things like that. He was very explosive. He was 220 pounds — whatever he was — but he was a thumper. He was a contact player but ran well. Very instinctive. Did a great job at disguising coverages.

“Great practice player too," Belichick added. "Made everybody else on the team better. If you practiced against him you got better, or you got embarrassed. One of the two. And he brought a level of competitiveness, intensity, focus, and brought a higher level of practice to the team which helped everybody. There’s a lot of things that don’t ever show up in the stats or anything like that, but tremendous, tremendous respect for what he did as a player, what he brought to our team, how much he meant to our team.”

It will remain to be seen if Harrison will get the call that he will be going to Canton to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But he has some serious backers, including one Tom Brady.

Jerod Mayo casts more doubt on Patriots QB plans with latest comments. Jerod Mayo casts more doubt on Patriots QB plans with latest comments. dark. Next