Rodney Harrison (left) and Ernie Sutton (right) kid with each other while Otis Wilson and Sam Balark looking on in background before they tee off at Hillcrest football's annual Golf With the Pros outing at Ravisloe Golf Club in Homewood on Friday. | Jos
Voted the dirtiest player in the NFL in 2004 by his peers, Rodney Harrison is no stranger to controversial hits.
For the two-time Super Bowl champ and current NBC commentator, however, Harrison had to draw the line when he heard of the New Orleans Saints defensive bounty scheme.
Saints defensive players over the past three seasons were awarded bonuses for particularly brutal hits that knocked opposing players out of games.
“I’ve been on very physical football defenses, and being physical with a certain mind-set is OK,” Harrison said. “When you intentionally try and take out a player’s ACL, that’s completely wrong. There’s no place in football for that. To hear that (about the Saints) was very disappointing.”
A Marian Catholic grad, Harrison was back in town Friday for Hillcrest’s Golf with the Pros fundraiser at Ravisloe Country Club in Homewood. Proceeds from the fundraiser went to the Hillcrest football program.
Other current and former pro athletes in attendance included Hillcrest’s Marquice Cole, Super Bowl XX champion and former Bear Otis Wilson, former Bears receiver and current television and radio personality Tom Waddle and former NFL defensive back Ray Buchanan.
Having made big splashes in the offseason to improve the roster, the Bears look poised to do some damage in the NFC North, Harrison said.
The Bears acquired three-time Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall from the Miami Dolphins in March and signed free-agent running back Michael Bush to a four-year deal.
“Marshall is a huge impact player who can go deep or across the middle, and Bush is a big, physical running back,” Harrison said. “To me, the Bears are still looking to run the ball, but they can take some shots down the field with dependable receivers with great hands and keep those chains moving.”
While the offseason moves will no doubt bolster the offense, Bears running back Matt Forte is seeking a new contract rather than play for the franchise tag in the 2012 season.
“Ultimately, the club holds all the cards,” Harrison said. “You don’t want to sit out so all you can do as a player is go out and prove yourself. Eventually, someone will want to pay you whether it is the Bears or someone else. He’s a fantastic player, and he can come back and have another great year. The thing with free agency though? If one team doesn’t like you, someone else will.”
Cole finds new home
Having spent the first three seasons of his NFL career playing for the New York Jets, Cole will stay in the AFC East this season, but don a different uniform.
A defensive back, Cole signed with the New England Patriots in March.
“I feel like I’ve got a good shot to go out and get some defensive reps with them,” Cole said. “I’m just trying to seize the opportunity now that it’s in front of me.”