Al Harris (born December 7, 1974 in Pompano Beach, Florida) was a cornerback who played for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL). Harris spent seven seasons with the Packers after being acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles in a 2003 trade by then general manager Mike Sherman. Harris started 102 regular-season games with the Packers, missing just 10 games over his seven years dating to the start of the 2010 season.
Harris was known throughout the league for his physical, bump-and-run coverage style. He was given the nickname "Dirty-One" by other players and officials as it encapsulates his aggressive style of play with his uniform number; 31. He is also awarded the nickname "Predator" as his long hair in dreadlock style mimics the intimidating sci-fi movie figure of the same name.
Harris spent two seasons (1993–94) at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens, Texas where he was a member of the 1994 national championship team. He then transferred to Texas A&M University-Kingsville where he was a two-year starter and letterman (1995–96). Harris was a first-team All-Lone Star Conference pick in 1996.
Tampa Bay BuccaneersEdit
Harris was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1997 NFL Draft, being selected in the sixth round with the 169th overall selection. He did not play during the 1997 season and was waived by Tampa Bay without playing for team on August 30.
After being waived by Tampa Bay the day before, Harris was claimed by the Philadelphia Eagles on August 31, 1998. He became an immediate contributor. Harris made his NFL debut a week later against the Seattle Seahawks as the starting right cornerback in place of injured Bobby Taylor. He started seven games and played in all 16 during the 1998 season.
Over the ensuing four seasons, Harris settled into his role as the team's nickelback and occasional starter at cornerback.
On November 6, 2000, Harris signed a five-year contract extension through 2004 with the Eagles.
Green Bay PackersEdit
Following the 2002 season, the Green Bay Packers acquired Harris and a fourth round choice in that year's draft in exchange for the Packers' second round selection. Harris went on to start all 32 regular season games over the next two seasons for Green Bay, where he became a solid feature of the secondary.
In overtime of the Wild Card round of the 2004 NFL playoffs, Harris intercepted Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and ran the ball back 52 yards for the winning touchdown.
In 2005, Harris only allowed one touchdown in coverage, and Harris finished the season with three sacks, ten pass deflections, and three interceptions (one for touchdown in a 52-3 win over the New Orleans Saints).
In 2006, Harris only allowed 1½ touchdowns in coverage, largely due to his dominant "in your face" style. One big play was on a slant route by St. Louis Rams wide receiver Torry Holt. The half was a busted coverage against Buffalo Bills wide receiver Lee Evans. Harris finished the season with three interceptions and 14 pass deflections, while being a consistent all star all through the season.
On February 13, 2007 it was announced that Harris signed a two-year contract extension with the Packers. The deal is an add-on to the five-year, $18.7 million extension that Harris signed in 2004, a contract that included about $7 million in guarantees. That extension still had three seasons remaining on it, through 2009. Financial details of the new extension were not yet available, but Harris told the Wisconsin State Journal that it includes two roster bonuses totaling $4.5 million, along with some Pro Bowl incentives. As of week 14 (in 2007–2008 season), he has had two interceptions; one in Week 13's game against the Dallas Cowboys, and the second coming from an interception on the Oakland Raiders in Week 14. The 2007–2008 season did not end well for Harris or the Packers, though, as they were defeated 23-20 by the New York Giants in the NFC Championship game. Harris' performance was notably bad as he was routinely beaten by Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress, to the point where Burress exclaimed to Harris, "You can't cover me!".
Harris played in the 2008 Pro Bowl, along with teammates Chad Clifton, Donald Driver, and Aaron Kampman, as well as head coach Mike McCarthy. Brett Favre was scheduled to play too; however, he did not report to recover from season injuries.
Harris was originally thought to be out for the remainder of the 2008 season due to a ruptured spleen suffered during the first quarter of the game against Dallas, when he collided with fellow Green Bay Packer A.J. Hawk. However, Harris came back to the Packers in their game against the Tennessee Titans on November 2, 2008.
On November 22, 2009, Al Harris suffered a potentially career-ending injury to the outside of his left knee in a home game against the San Francisco 49ers. Harris fell to the ground while trailing Niners wide receiver Michael Crabtree; no contact caused the injury, Harris reported his foot simply 'got caught in the ground'. Harris tore the anterior cruciate ligament, the lateral collateral ligament, the iliotibial band, the fibular collateral ligament, and the lateral hamstring. His knee was surgically reconstructed eight days later and Harris worked at rehabilitating his knee.
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Harris started the 2010 season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, then returned to practice on October 19. On November 8, 2010 Al Harris was taken off the list and waived by the Packers, much in due to the emergence of the younger Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. He passed through waivers unclaimed, making him a free agent. Green Bay paid Harris the pro-rated portion of his $2.5 million salary, but was not obligated to pay the rest of it even though he passed through waivers.
On Sunday, November 21, 2010, Harris took out a large advertisement in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, thanking Packer fans for 'always supporting (him)'.
After drawing interest from a number of teams, Harris signed a 1-year deal with the Miami Dolphins on November 10, 2010. He played three games before suffering a hamstring injury and was placed on injured reserve, ending his season. On December 31, 2010 Al Harris was cut.