Putting David Harris behind us while focusing on the future
By Hillary Garza
Linebacker David Harris is now officially a member of the New England Patriots. It’s time to put the heartbreak behind us and focus on the bright future of the New York Jets.
When I first heard that the New England Patriots signed former Jets linebacker, David Harris, admittedly, my emotions got the better of me. “No! The Patriots? Any team but the Patriots!” “Traitor!” I thought, “Great, first, it’s Darrelle Revis, now Harris. Who’s next to join the Patriots? Nick Mangold? Let’s add more insult to injury. But then the rational aspect of my personality collided with the emotional side, fortunately, the former winning out.
Yes, it bothers me that Harris will be a Patriot but at the same time, his Jets legacy hasn’t been tarnished one bit as far as I’m concerned. So rather than be upset that he is currently in the Patriots’ universe, I’m going to appreciate his invaluable contributions to the Jets. Bottom line, Harris was one of the most reliable and impactful players to ever don a Jets uniform.
When Harris was drafted in 2007, then-general manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Eric Mangini traded up with the Green Bay Packers 16 spots just so they could select him. It goes without saying that with draft picks a). you simply just never know, and b). the Jets have had a recent bad history with second-round draft picks. So with Harris, the Jets clearly got it right. Remarkably, Harris started 121 games in a row, which says everything about his durability and commitment to staying on the field and to the team.
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Year after year, Harris was a tackling machine, compiling 1,088 combined (708 solo) tackles. Overall, Harris rewarded the Jets with 10 solid years of productivity at one of the toughest positions in the NFL, middle linebacker.
And who can forget his interception of Tom Brady during the 2011 NFL Playoffs? The Jets ambushed the Patriots that day; Harris’ INT completely changed the momentum. While Harris isn’t the same caliber player as future Pro Football Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, or current Pro Football Hall of Famers, Junior Seau, and Derrick Thomas (just to name a few), still, there is no question that Harris had a stellar career with the Jets.
Indeed, his value to the team won’t be truly felt until the season gets underway, raising the question how in the world will the Jets replace him? The simple and obvious answer is that you can’t. Some combination of Demario Davis, Darron Lee, and Bruce Carter will not make up for Harris’ defensive impact. All in all, the Jets can expect a significant drop off at the middle linebacker position.
As much as I don’t want to admit it, head coach Bill Belichick is one of the best talent evaluators in the NFL. On the one hand, I’m fairly certain that Belichick believes signing Harris is one more easy opportunity to stick it to the Jets, but that would be too simplistic of an argument. Also, keep in mind that the Patriots just signed middle linebacker Dont’a Hightower to a mega-deal so clearly, Belichick thinks Harris can contribute to a defense already stacked.
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It’s never easy saying goodbye to one of your favorite players, no less to see that player go to your arch rival. But I’m going to put pride aside (for now, I’ll be rooting against him when the Jets play the Patriots, that’s for certain), and wish Harris well, and thank him for 10 great years as a Jet. Besides, it’s time to put the past in the rear view mirror where it belongs, and focus on the future of the Jets, hello Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, and Leonard Williams!