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Rodney Harrison: Brady 'Has Edge Over Manning in Terms of Leadership'

Jun 3, 2009 – 2:35 PM
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Ryan Wilson

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This is sure to rile up the natives but, well, Rodney Harrison built a career around that -- along with late hits, blows to the head, and 15 years of some pretty solid football.

Earlier today he announced his retirement from tackling fat guys for a living, as well as his plans for the future: studio analyst for NBC's Football Night in America, along with recently retired Colts coach Tony Dungy.

That's all well and good, and I think both will be fine additions to NBC's coverage. Truth be told, even as a Steelers fan, I liked Harrison. Sure, he prematurely ended Duce Staley's 2004 season*, but even if his methods were sometimes questionable, the guy was a game-changer. Sorta like the defensive version of Hines Ward but without all the grinning.

During a Wednesday conference call with Dungy to talk up their new gig, Harrison dropped some knowledge on the never-ending Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady debate. When the topic turned to former Colts' assistant coaches Tom Moore and Howard Mudd (they resigned last month because of pension issues), and Manning's subsequent frustrations with the news, Harrison offered this:
"This is something I've discussed with Coach Dungy and I think it gives Tom Brady the edge over Peyton Manning in terms of leadership. If this went on in New England, it wouldn't come out publicly. He wouldn't make a big fuss over it. So many guys are looking up to [Peyton] that once they sense panic, they get nervous. You have to control your emotions and not allow these things to get outside the walls. I have a lot of respect for Peyton Manning, but this is a guy that needs to control his emotions."
Look, Brady-Manning, Manning-Brady. The order doesn't really matter; they're the two best quarterbacks in the league. I think we can all agree on that. But does Harrison seriously think that Brady appears less publicly panicky than Manning?

I know, Bill Simmons fed his family off "Manning Face" bits up till 2006, but I've seen Brady publicly -- and animatedly -- ripping his teammates on the sidelines or in the huddle when they're not playing up to his expectations. And then there's this peculiar "keep our names out of your mouth" outburst from 2005. Because nothing screams "leader" like a quarterback busting out the disrespect card on a team fresh off its third Super Bowl this decade.

Other than the fact that he routinely wears out the Steelers, I couldn't care less how Brady carries himself on the field. It's just that I have no idea what Harrison's talking about. And neither does Dungy, apparently, who responded with, "I'm not sure I would agree it was panic."

Harrison's reply:
"As a player, it's your job to play football. This is OTAs. It's not even minicamp yet. There is no sense of panicing. These things can be worked out. He's been running the same offense for 11 years, it's not like it's new to him. That disappointed me, for him to publicly come out and say things. I thought it was a sense of panic."
As best I can tell, these are the comments from Manning that most disappoint Harrison: "I'm not sure everybody's on the same page in this building. I'm just trying to focus on playing quarterback well. ... It's not normal not having a full coaching staff ... I know we hired a couple of guys to come in, but these guys are learning. They're not offering a lot of coaching out there, I can assure you of that."

Translation: "I give up. The 2009 season is doomed. We don't have a chance. Oh, and Tom Brady owns me." - Peyton Manning.

Or maybe Harrison's insane. Because that's what I'm going with.

* rampant speculation!
Filed under: Sports