Cognizant of this, the recently retired Harrison -- who is embarking on a new career as a studio analyst for NBC's Football Night in America -- is convinced he won't get a fair shake from the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee five years from now, when he's eligible for induction.
"Probably not," the former Chargers and Patriots safety told FanHouse, "because just look how the NFL has looked at me all these years. Ignoring my stats and my impact as a player and a teammate. Focusing on the negative.
"Do I believe I'm a Hall of Fame player? Absolutely. Will I make it in there? That's up to you guys. But I know that I did all I could do."
Can you write the history of the NFL without mentioning this player or contributor? That's a question that's often posed by selectors.
Harrison put up excellent numbers in his era, as he points out. He played big in big games for the Patriots' Super Bowl teams. He started in 159 of 186 games and was fairly durable until injuries caught up to him at the end of his career -- he started just 31 games in his final four seasons.
"I know it's up to you guys. But I think [the selection board] should be made up of football archeologists, historians, personnel managers, people that know the game and have played the game,'' Harrison says. "No disrespect to you guys. Maybe, even a handful of reporters should be part of it.
"But can they do it without any biases? I don't know if they can, if that's fair."
What burns Harrison most about this discussion? The lofty NFL honors that he believes masquerade as popularity contests.
Harrison, despite his status as the only player in NFL history to record 30 sacks (30.5) and 30 interceptions (34) and being an integral part of two Super Bowl winning teams, was selected to the Pro Bowl only twice in 15 seasons.
"The Pro Bowl is an absolute joke,'' Harrison says. "When you look at the guys who can't even play safety and they're getting in. You've got guys going in with 70 tackles, one or two interceptions, no sacks, no passes defensed, no impact on the game. I mean, it's crazy how the Pro Bowl voting is.
"You mean to tell me a guy like John Lynch, who I respect to death, you tell me he's an eight, nine-time Pro Bowler, and I'm a two-time Pro Bowler?"
Harrison's got a strong point there.
In 15 seasons, Harrison averaged 6.5 tackles per game along with his 34 interceptions, 15 forced fumbles and 30.5 sacks.
Lynch, in 16 seasons, averaged 4.7 tackles per game and recorded 26 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and 13 sacks.
In 2003, when Harrison led the Patriots with 140 regular-season tackles and three interceptions, he was voted All-Pro by The Associated Press media panel. But he failed to make the Pro Bowl roster that season.
"Look at these stats!" Harrison says emphatically. "All you have to do is pull 'em up and look at 'em -- my interceptions, my tackles, my impact on the game. Everything! What does that tell you?
"But guess what: Because I'm Rodney Harrison, because everyone wanted to put this 'dirty player' stigma on me, no one would vote for me. But if you asked these guys, would they want me on their team, yes they would."
What about the negatives?
• The HGH suspension in 2007: Was it cheating? "I don't think so. Because if you look at the reports, it was done over a couple of months, not a couple of years,'' Harrison says. "If you look at my numbers before and my numbers after that, I don't think it had any impact as far as performance.
"Of course, people will use that as a way to keep me out, and that's fine, because I won't trade my Super Bowl rings for the Hall of Fame, any day."
• His history of questionable hits and personal fouls: "It was always about the team and I did everything in my power to make sure my teammates were OK," Harrison says. "And that's why I got fined a lot of the time and got into fights, because I always wanted to protect my teammates, my coach, the city that I played for. That's the passion."
• Being fined more than $200,000 by the NFL: "It didn't matter!" Harrison contends. "What did the fine or the money mean to me? I was out there playing football, OK? You've got [recently retired NFL director of football operations] Gene Washington, he [was] a wide receiver. Of course he didn't like me. Because if he had played against me, of course I would knock his freakin' head off, too. They didn't want me hitting Jerry Rice in the nose."
You have to appreciate the man's honesty. Harrison's not the first player to lash out at the Hall of Fame selection process and he won't be the last.
Giants linebacker Harry Carson was all class as a player, but he was so steamed after failing to garner the required 80-percent approval of the board as a five-time finalist, he demanded the Hall remove his name from consideration.
The keepers of the Hall in Canton, Ohio declined, and the board comprised of pro football writers and broadcasters voted Carson into the Class of 2006 after seven consecutive years as a finalist. He accepted graciously.
As longtime Hall of Fame selector Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com reminds us, there are only five safeties among the 111 players selected for the Hall from the "Super Bowl era" -- Ken Houston, Paul Krause, Larry Wilson, Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson, who will go in a month from now with the Class of 2009.
"You mean to tell me a guy like John Lynch, who I respect to death, you tell me he's an eight, nine-time Pro Bowler, and I'm a two-time Pro Bowler?"Only the center position, with four inductees, is more overlooked.
"Safety has always been looked as a hybrid position -- 'Well, he can't run, he can't cover man-to-man, he's back 10 to 12 yards' -- they took it for granted,'' Harrison explains. But he says the great safeties of today, such as Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and Bob Sanders, are finally being appreciated because of the foundation laid by hard-hitting players such as Lott, Woodson, Steve Atwater and, yes, himself.
When Harrison's turn at the Hall first comes up in 2014, he'll be a controversial candidate. A player of his caliber, however, will not be dismissed solely because of his on-field reputation.
Like Carson, it may take a few years before Harrison's complete contribution to the NFL and to his championship teams can be fairly assessed in comparison to other candidates.
"As I walk off that field, I have no regrets,'' Harrison says, "because I respected my peers, I respected the game and I played the game the right way. It wasn't about the money, a big check, it wasn't about the big cars, the houses, none of that. It was about respecting what everyone laid out before us.
"If you look at the numbers, my numbers don't lie. My impact is there."