Harrison Looking Forward Not Back

Rodney Harrison is the unquestioned leader of the Patriots secondary. So when asked if the team has put the past behind them, his answer goes for everyone...

--Not even for a minute.

That was how Rodney Harrison responded when asked if he gave retirement any thought this offseason.

At age 35 and coming off an emotionally draining season, it would certainly have been understandable if Harrison wavered throughout his time off. His year started with the embarrassment of a four-game suspension that came as a result of his violation of the league's banned substances policy and the "Spygate" scandal that threatened the moral fiber of the team. It then progressed as the Patriots ran roughshod over the league for the better part of three months.

As the wins piled up, so did the pressure to remain perfect. But Harrison and his teammates were up to the challenge until the bitter end. Of course it was Harrison right in the middle of things, as usual, when that Super Bowl was on the line. After Eli Manning somehow avoided the clutches of Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green, his pass seemed to be targeted for two people -- Harrison and the Giants David Tyree.

The pair jumped and fought and clawed one another, but unlike so many other times during his 14-year career, Harrison did not come out on top. Instead it was Tyree making an improbable, gravity-defying grab to keep New York's hopes alive. Moments later, the Patriots dream was dead and nobody could blame a veteran like Harrison if he decided right then and there that he'd had enough.

"I never really thought like that," Harrison said during last month's minicamp in Foxborough. "I just needed some time to rest, spend time with the family and get away. And after a month or two of rest, I got back, got excited, started working out and feel great now.

"I feel great physically, I feel great mentally and spiritually. It was great having an opportunity to be out on the field with the guys; as you get older you really appreciate it more."

He also would appreciate less time being spent worrying about what transpired six months ago. While many in New England spent the offseason fretting over the loss and the ongoing taping controversy, Harrison refused to waste time on such nonsense. He said such an approach is easy considering it was the same one he used after winning a pair of Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004.

"I don't know why you all keep talking about last year," he said. "I'm excited about this year. If you sit back and boast about what you've done, that's how you get caught. You have to forget about your successes as well as your failures.

"For the most part, it's been a good offseason. I think guys have enjoyed themselves, got a chance to spend some time with the family and spend some time away from football, which you have to have to get that mental break. But now guys are coming back focused and ready for the season."
That's obviously a rather healthy outlook, but still, there must be some lingering negative debris from being so close to something so special. The topic of avoiding the post-Super Bowl loss hangover remained prevalent during the discussion, but Harrison refused to give in.

"I don't think you have a pity party when you prepare, when you give everything, when you lay everything out on the line," he said. "There's no need for a pity party. You give everything -- your heart, your soul, you sacrifice things with your family, things that you normally wouldn't sacrifice -- so it's no pity party for me because I laid it on the line."

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