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Rodney Harrison makes emotional plea for Peyton Manning to put health first

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Yesterday Peyton Manning was cleared to return to football. I still don’t understand what, exactly, that means [Update: Jim Irsay has said that the team is releasing a statement today as Manning as NOT been cleared by the team to play]. I also don’t know why he’d even consider playing after three neck surgeries involving bones being fused and scary things of that nature. Apparently Rodney Harrison doesn’t either. Harrison, along with other NBCers were on a panel for the debut of Bob Costas’s new show “Costas Tonight” and Harrison took a moment to address player safety and injuries. Harrison was clearly emotional and having some trouble expressing his himself coherently-maybe he didn’t want to go too far in criticizing the sport. But he started a sentence by saying if he’d known NOW what he knew back then when he was trying to establish his reputation as a hitter he… but then he didn’t complete the thought.

During his speaking turn, Harrison also mentioned his own chronic discomfort, headaches, and short term memory loss saying that his wife is constantly checking on him. He finished by addressing Manning’s situation. He didn’t come right out and say that Manning shouldn’t return but he did say that Manning should walk away before he ends up in a wheel chair. It’s worth watching if only because you don’t see Harrison’s sensitive side very often. I’m sure many of us remember hating Harrison as a player and thinking of him as dirty years ago when he was knocking folks down for the Patriots.

Odd moment with Cris Collinsworth, though. I didn’t see the show live so I don’t know if this was the result of choppy editing or not. But after Harrison is done talking, Collinswoth goes on a somewhat defensive tangent about how his sons play football and how it turns boys into men. It seemed off color since Harrison just explained how football also turns boys into men with chronic pain. I also thought it was tone deaf for a former wide receiver to make that point given that it’s a “safer” position. This is not to say that WRs don’t banged up too…when Chris Henry died his autopsy showed early signs of serious brain damage. But I have to acknowledge that being a hard hitting safety is a little different from playing wide receiver. Again, it could have been the editing. If you saw it live, let me know.


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