Harrison remembers San Diego days

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Rodney Harrison departs the NFL for the broadcast booth having last played for the New England Patriots, but it would be remiss not to remember where Harrison began his NFL days.

Before he was a Patriot, Harrison began his hard-hitting NFL life with San Diego. He was a rookie on the Chargers 1994 Super Bowl team. He departed San Diego after the 2002 season.

In a conference call with media members conducted through the Patriots on Wednesday, Harrison remembered his San Diego days. He thanks Chargers fans and singled out former Chargers great Junior Seau (who he also teamed with in New England).

"I will have to personally thank Junior Seau for probably being the single most influential person in my football career," Harrison said. "A guy that taught me how to be a professional. A guy that taught me how to appreciate working hard, respecting the game and really being consistent and understanding that the game of football is definitely a privilege and a great opportunity to have and not taking it for granted."

Harrison said he was close to continuing his post-San Diego career in the AFC West with either Oakland or Denver before New England wooed him.

"I was in the office about to sit down and talk to Al Davis and I was on the phone with Mike Shanahan at the time and then right after that Bill Belichick called and he said, 'hey we want to fly you out'," Harrison said. "I look and I say, 'ok, do I stay in Oakland or do I fly to New England?' Something told me you better get on that plane, so I am in shorts -- it's about 85 degrees out in Oakland and I hop on the plane. I sneak out of Al Davis' office and tell them that I need to go get a lunch break. From there I go straight to the airport, hop on a flight and I end up in New England at 6 a.m. I'm in Belichick's office around 8:30 or 9 and trying to work out a contract an hour or two later. Once I sat down and met with Bill and Scott Pioli it was a wrap.

"This is the place that I knew God had destined for me to be and I'm so glad. I always wanted to play for Mike Shanahan, but I had a great feeling knowing that Belichick wanted me. He's a football guy and that's what I like. He told me some things that I never thought he paid attention to, which really impressed me and it really sold me [on] becoming a Patriot."