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Outside the Lines:
Joey Harrington and
Gone from the Game
Here's the transcript from Show 108 of weekly Outside The Lines - Joey Harrington and Gone from the Game
ANNOUNCER - April 21, 2002.
BOB LEY, HOST- Joey Harrington was ready. Yet, in the day and the hours leading to the NFL Draft, he wondered just where he'd be taken.
JOEY HARRINGTON, OREGON QUARTERBACK- I've turned out to be the kind of guy who would go anywhere, from three to 18.
PAUL TAGLIABUE, NFL COMISSIONER- With the third choice in the 2002 Draft, the Detroit Lions select Joey Harrington, quarterback from Oregon.
LEY- But at the other end of the NFL life are top draft picks - their careers cut short without warning.
JOHN MICHAELS, FORMER NFL PLAYER- I went through a real serious time of depression, trying to figure out, "What now? What will I do with my life?"
LEY- Many players know nothing but this game.
DAVID LAFLEUR, FORMER NFL PLAYER- That's all we've -- all we've done all our life. That's what we know. You know, we're football players.
LEY- Some feel they can still play.
MICHAELS- That's the thing that I was created to do.
LEY- Today on "Outside the Lines" -- The anxiety of players gone from the game, and the anticipation of one of the princes of this year's draft.
You know full well that two things are about to happen to you -- First, you are about to see life-altering sums of money. And second, the phone is going to ring to tell you where your every utterance, each success, every setback will be scrutinized and analyzed in an atmosphere of expectation and pressure.
You are Joey Harrington. Separating truth from spin around the NFL Draft is next to impossible. So imagine the anticipation for a young quarterback at the center of the past 72 hours.
Joey Harrington knows that recent history in the persons of Tom Brady and Donovan McNabb, and we'll be speaking live with Donovan in a few moments. Recent history suggests that today's drafted quarterback is fully expected now to be tomorrow's impact player -- and we do mean tomorrow.
First, the last several yesterdays for Joey Harrington chronicled by Bob Holtzman.
BOB HOLTZMAN, ESPN- It's been said, "He has the instincts of Montana, and the heart of Favre." But Friday afternoon, just 20 hours before the NFL Draft, Joey Harrington was still a wildcard with no idea where he was headed or when he'd be picked.
HARRINGTON- Everybody seemed to have a -- have a place. You know, David Carr's going to Houston, and, probably, Julius Peppers is going to Carolina. And then there was a group of players -- you know, three, four, five, six -- who were going to go somewhere in that area. I've turned out to be kind of the guy who'd go anywhere from three to 18.
HOLTZMAN- Harrington has no time to dwell on the uncertainty of the draft.
NIKE REPRESENTATIVE- We do a lot of rough thumbnail sketches.
HOLTZMAN- Friday, he has a meeting at the suburban Portland world headquarters of Nike.
HARRINGTON- I wore this shirt, this one two years in a row. I really like this one there.
HOLTZMAN- Six weeks ago, he signed a deal to wear and endorse Nike's products.
PHIL KNIGHT, NIKE CHAIRMAN- This is the Michael Jordan Building it's facing. You can go down that way from Michael Jordan Building. And right behind that is Bo Jackson Fitness Center.
HOLTZMAN- Harrington is greeted by Nike Chairman Phil Knight, who also went to the University of Oregon, and who is thrilled to have the charismatic quarterback onboard.
KNIGHT- He's got it all -- he's intelligent, he's handsome, he's smart. That -- he's a great athlete, and he's -- However good he is normally during the game, in the last five minutes, he's twice as good.
HARRINGTON- Either way, you're getting paid an exorbitant amount of money to play a game for a living.
HOLTZMAN- Right after the meeting, Harrington does a radio interview -- one of dozens of interview requests he has that day.
HARRINGTON- I wish there was one big questionnaire I could fill out for everybody and just photocopy it, and give it to all 32 teams. That would be the best way to go about it.
HOLTZMAN- During a recent stretch, Harrington spent eight days crisscrossing the country, meeting with potential employers.
HARRINGTON- I went from San Diego to Los Angeles, to Newport, Eugene, drove to Portland, Washington, Detroit, and Buffalo, Carolina, Kansas City, Atlanta. I've been going so fast, it's been tough to kind of sit back and think about things. So, you know, hopefully, this weekend will clear some things up.
HOLTZMAN- One thing we knew long before this weekend was that Harrington was born to be a quarterback. His dad took the snaps at Oregon more than 30 years ago. Joey got his first recruiting letter from the Ducks in November of 1978. At the time, he was two weeks old.
Twenty-three years later, he wound up on the side of a building in Manhattan, and was a finalist for the Heisman trophy. The question Friday was where he was headed next.
TV ANNOUNCER- When I see Joey Harrington, I see the mechanics, which are rock solid.
HOLTZMAN- Saturday morning in Portland, as expected, David Carr and Julius Peppers have gone one, two.
MIKE TIRICO, ESPN- They are at the pivot point of this 2002 Draft. It's right here and now, with the Lions on the clock.
HOLTZMAN- Just then, the Lions call to say they've started negotiating with Texas cornerback Quenton Jammer. Ten minutes later, Detroit has a change of heart, and a stunned Harrington gets a phone call.
HARRINGTON- All right, thank you, sir. I'll be right here.
TAGLIABUE- With the third choice in the 2002 Draft, the Detroit Lions select Joey Harrington.
HOLTZMAN- It came as a surprise, obviously. But when they announce your name -- when you get that call …
HARRINGTON- It was a huge surprise, because the last -- the last information I had was that they were going to take Jammer -- That I was going to be still in the blur. So when I got that phone call, it was -- it was a thrill. My heart just started shaking. I couldn't -- I couldn't believe it, and I still haven't quite calmed down yet.
HOLTZMAN- Within minutes, Harrington is on the phone again. One whirlwind over another just beginning.
VALERIE HARRINGTON, JOEY'S MOTHER- We're thrilled for him, and it's a huge opportunity. And we're sure he'll be very successful, and we know we'll be back there a lot. So we just have to start adding up those frequent flyer miles, so it'll be fun.
LEY- Joining us to consider the situation of a young quarterback taken at the top of the draft -- Donovan McNabb of the Philadelphia Eagles. You may forget -- I'm guessing he didn't -- that when he was drafted second overall three years ago, some Eagle fans booed the selection. And all Donovan has done in his third year of the league this past season is take the Eagles to the NFC Championship Game. He's joining us this morning from Phoenix.
Good morning, Donovan.
DONOVAN MCNABB, QUARTERBACK, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES- Good morning.
LEY- I guess there's some echoes of your own experience in watching Joey Harrington waiting for the phone call, and the nerves. And now you're to the point -- Joey's at the point where you've got to march into a major market team the needs some leadership. Is there any doubt in your mind -- in the depth of your soul, the pit of your stomach -- that, "My gosh, here I am at this point."
MCNABB- Well, you know, when you get an opportunity like this, it's something that you've been dreaming about. And I think Joey is a guy that has worked extremely hard to get to this point. and I think he's not going to look back. I think he's a guy that has a lot of confidence and feels that -- with him going into Detroit with the great group of guys that he has around him -- he's going to make things happen for them.
LEY- But what's it like as a rookie walking into a locker room? And you were starting by halfway through your rookie season. Quarterback is a leadership position, and you're the young kid with the big bucks walking in. Is it tough to exercise leadership in that situation?
MCNABB- It's not tough at all. I think what you have to do is just be yourself - Go in and just, you know, just corral around the guys, and, you know, just sit back and just try to compare goals. And then not only to do that -- Just go out and show how hard you want to work to be the best and -- You know, it's going to take some time, and he's going to go in and get harassed by some of the veterans, because they're going to bring up the money issue and playing in Oregon, and things of that nature. So it's just something you have to laugh at and just continue to move forward, and just try to prepare himself for a rough ride.
LEY- It may be a rough ride, but you're a success, as I mentioned. You've got Tom Brady coming on as a young quarterback in this league, winning a Super Bowl. Do you think you guys have raised the bar, either fairly or unfairly, of expectations of what a young guy can do walking in as a quarterback now?
MCNABB- I don't think that -- I wouldn't say "raised the bar." I think what we did was we gave a lot of people opportunities right now, who a lot of people may have doubted. I think anytime you get caught up in a situation where you're worried about what people are saying or how people are feeling about your play or about you, then that takes a lot away from your game. And, you know, myself, Brady, and the list goes on -- Daunte Culpepper and the rest of those guys -- We're just guys that want to go out and just showcase our talent, and put our team in a great position to be successful.
LEY- What's the biggest off-field challenge for Joey Harrington that you've found from your experience in Philly?
MCNABB- Well, you know, I think, you know, as a guy that's being drafted so high, everyone pretty much focuses on the money. And, you know, he's going to have a lot of people come around him that may not have been there when he -- when he just started out at Oregon. And guys who have been there know what things were going well for him in Oregon. So they're going to show up, and they're going to request some different things. I think what he has to do is just continue to handle that as a professional -- you know, pick and choose the guys he wants to have around and, more importantly, make sure their mom and dad are happy.
LEY- So if you could pick up the phone and offer him one piece of advice, it would be …
MCNABB- Well, football aspect -- You know, it would be just to be patient. Take one day at a time. It's going to be rough. But be able to suffer through the adversity and pick things up. But off the field it's more or less to just -- you know, just stay in focus on what you need to do, handle what's going on, on the outside, so that it won't bother you playing football.
LEY - Donovan, thanks a great deal for joining us. Thanks for getting up early with us.
MCNABB- Oh, thank you.
LEY- All right. We appreciate it a great deal. Next up -- What happens when a career, even one that begins as a first-rounder, ends suddenly, without warning.
MICHAELS- In my mind, I was just constantly saying, "Not like this. This isn't how it's supposed to be. This isn't how the dream is supposed to end."
LEY- Joey Harrington is less than 24 hours into his NFL experience, and that's not a long time. Neither is the life of the average career in the National Football League -- less than three and a half years, according to a recent study by the Players' Union. And when it ends -- when football is gone -- Lisa Salters reports, the question is whether these young men in their twenties are willing and prepared to move on.
LISA SALTERS- Some of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history have come from USC. Hall-of-Famers Ron Yary and Anthony Munoz, and five-time pro-bowler Tony Boselli, just to name a few. John Michaels wanted to be one of them.
SALTERS- In your mind, when you were coming out of college, were you going to be on that list?
MICHAELS- Absolutely, without a doubt.
SALTERS- You remember this?
LAFLEUR- Yeah, I guess.
SALTERS- The draft report from '97.
LAFLEUR- … has been a highly regarded player since early in his career. At LSU, ranking as one of the top-combination pass receiving, inline-blocking tight ends to come down the pike in recent memory.
TAGLIABUE- … with the 22nd pick just acquired from Philadelphia, the Dallas Cowboys select David Lafleur, tight end from LSU.
LAFLEUR- It's pretty hectic, not knowing and anticipating where you're going to go, you know, where your future lies. You just really have no clue what's ahead of you.
CHRIS BERMAN, ESPN- For guys that size, I heard the name Dave Casper thrown around when one of the scouts was telling me about Lafleur. And I thought, if that name is in the same sentence, then Lafleur must be a pretty good ballplayer.
SALTERS- Michaels had experienced the same roller-coaster ride just the year before.
MICHAELS- I remember, as the draft was going on -- you know, every pick, you're a little bit tense, and you're waiting. You have the phone sitting right in front of you, and you're just waiting for it to ring.
NFL REPRESENTATIVE … with the 25th selection in the first round, the Baltimore Ravens have selected Ray Lewis, linebacker, the University of Miami. Next on the clock, Green Bay …
MICHAELS- Our hopes were that Green Bay was going to be the team. In fact, we had little slices of cheese, and when Green Bay's came up on the clock, we stuck the cheese on our foreheads, and we sat there and go, "Come on, cheese heads, let's go." And, sure enough - I mean, as soon as the clock started ticking on Green Bay, my phone rang.
NFL REPRESENTATIVE- The Green Bay Packers have selected Jon Michaels.
MICHAELS- It was the most exciting and powerful moment, I think, of my life.
SALTERS- Two first-round draft picks. And, now, two NFL afterthoughts. Lafleur lasted just four seasons in the NFL. Though there was talk in Dallas that he would be the heir-apparent to Jay Novacek, who had just retired, his performance never quite measured up.
LAFLEUR- I felt that pressure. Dallas used a first-round pick on a tight end, and Jay's leaving the game, and they expect somebody to step in and pick off right where he left off. And, you know, unfortunately, I didn't do that.
SALTERS- Lafleur's disappointing pro career was due in part to a nagging back injury he suffered in college. Even after surgery in 1999, the injury was too painful for Lafleur to continue.
LAFLEUR- The last season I played, in 2000, I probably practiced a total of two weeks to three weeks the whole season. I just couldn't run.
SALTERS- Jon Michaels' career got off to a promising start. He started nine games for the Packers his rookie year, on the road to becoming Super Bowl champions. But the next season, in 1997, it all began to fall apart.
MICHAELS- Early on in the season, I tore my MCL in a game, started the next week, and then re-aggravated it, and had another player fall on my knee. I ended up missing several weeks after that, and that's when Ross Verba stepped in and had that phenomenal rookie season that he had, and I never was able to regain the starting spot from there.
SALTERS- After being traded to Philadelphia in 1999, Michaels was cut after playing just one game for the Eagles.
MICHAELS- When I played that first game on their turf in Veteran's Stadium. And when I finished that game, I couldn't walk. I could barely stand. I'm in the shower, and I'm standing all my weight on my left leg, and I can't put any weight on my right leg. And I drive back to my apartment, and I called up my wife, and I said, "Hon, I don't know that I can do this anymore."
SALTERS- Just three seasons and one game after being drafted, Michaels' NFL career was over. How hard was it for you to say that to yourself?
MICHAELS- It was excruciating. This is what my dream, my whole life has been -- to play in the National Football League. And to see my dream end like that -- In my mind, I was just constantly saying, "Not like this. This isn't how it's supposed to be. This isn't how the dream is supposed to end." And I went through a real serious time of depression, trying to figure out, "Well, what now? What will I do with my life?"
SALTERS- Back in Louisiana, David Lafleur is still asking himself that question. Though he's part owner of a chain of MRI centers, he's not sure it's what he wants to do as a career. But the money he made playing football means there's no rush to make a decision.
LAFLEUR- Football has allowed me to be able to do what I want to do, and not necessarily go beating down doors to find a job tomorrow.
SALTERS- Any plans to get back into the NFL?
LAFLEUR- No, none whatsoever. That's behind me.
SALTERS- The same cannot be said for John Michaels.
MICHAELS- It's Mark, Chapter Four. And it starts in verse 35, and it's about Jesus calming a storm. It was that day when …
SALTERS- After serving as a youth minister for the last two years, and toying with the idea of coaching, Michaels is determined to make a comeback. Despite five knee surgeries, he trains up to three hours a day, trying to get his body ready for NFL camps this summer.
MICHAELS- I still have that itch. And I realize, "You know what? I need give it one more shot." I don't want to live my life ever asking, "What if? What if there was something else I could have done to get back to the game?"
SALTERS- You could keep working out, keep having the pain, and then really do something that would cause you never to be able to walk normally again.
MICHAELS- Without a doubt, but it's worth it. It's worth it to me because we're chasing after something greater than ourselves. And I feel like we can have a tremendous impact on this world through what we do, and that's why I do it.
SALTERS- What would you say to this incoming class of rookies?
LAFLEUR- Don't take it for granted, 'cause it's -- You know, I was part of it for four and a half, five years, you know and it's -- it comes and goes. Just don't take it for granted.
LEY- To look at how players might be prepared to move on, we welcome Mike Haynes. He's the newly appointed NFL Vice President of Player Development. He's also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, four times an all-pro cornerback for both the Patriots and the Raiders in a 14-year NFL career. Mike Haynes joins us this morning from New York.
Kenyon Rashad played football in Oklahoma and three seasons in the NFL as a fullback for the New York football Giants and with the Jets. He began preparing for his life after football. Even while in college three years ago, he established his own consulting company. He joins us this morning from Anaheim.
Good morning, gentlemen. Kenyon…
KENYON RASHAD, FORMER NFL RUNNING BACK- Good morning, Bob.
LEY- I think you're an exception. You would admit that. How many guys, though, in your locker rooms that you played got it anywhere close to the way that you seem to think you've gotten it?
RASHAD- I would say, probably, maybe one percent. It's a little difficult, once you get to the NFL, to kind of change the way that you've been basically brought up; and that is, everyone does everything for you.
Starting in high school and, of course, as the universities and some of the big-time college programs are basically endorsing the fact that they don't allow the athletes to really do what they are responsible for, from anywhere to enrolling in classes to finding them summer jobs. Everything is done for them.
So when you get out of the game, all of a sudden, these same people who have done everything for you are nowhere to be found, and you're going to rely on the athlete at that point to really go find out what he wants to do next. And that can be confusing if you've never done it before.
LEY- Now, if that's true, Mike Haynes, then what can seminars, what can programs do?
MIKE HAYNES, NFL VICE PRESIDENT OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT - Well, I think you can get people on the right track. They can begin to put together a plan for their lives, as like you saw on your -- on the show, the video that you just showed of the one player who was -- had some injuries and, really, his dream has come apart for him.
If he had a plan that included football but also life after football or off the field, maybe the transition wouldn't be as tough. But I agree with Kenyon, and a lot of what he's saying is true. A lot of the players are not -- don't have a lot of responsibility. Someone's doing a lot of the work for them. And it's pretty much our job for, when they first come into the National Football League, to sit them down to try and make them more aware of that and the challenges they're going to have, trying to handle all these problems themselves.
LEY- Well, Kenyon, what did the League say to you? I mean, what were the programs that you attended, and…
RASHAD- Well, the League, through the player programs, offers an internship program and a continuing education. The problem with that is that, to get an internship, you have to have a college degree, which is eliminating a majority of players in the NFL. So, and the end result of that…
HAYNES- Can I cut in here - Cut you off a little bit, Kenyon?
HAYNES- I thought that you might say that, 'cause I actually was prepped a little bit beforehand and did a little homework, and you're actually true. In the past, the NFL had had that sense. Their concern was the guys would not go back and finish their degrees.
About one half of the players do have their degrees. Another half of the players are about a year away from completing their degree. And they -- You know, we have decided that, in order for a player to go through our intern program, a lot of the jobs that they really want, they may not need to have a college degree.
But that decision won't be ours, it would be the employer's. And we're going to work with those guys just like we work for the guys that have the degrees.
LEY- Well, there's a great cachet to being an active NFL player, Kenyon. I'm sure you can agree with that. You walk in, and you've made a very good livelihood out of walking and making contacts. But when you're out of the game, how tough is it -- even if you've networked -- to find a job?
RASHAD- It's very difficult, especially if you're used to making X amount of dollars. So -- and you talk to most players, they're not going to tell you they're only going to play three to four years. They think they're going to go on past that. So they start living the lifestyle of what they're making. And if you're living -- live in a $200,000-a-year lifestyle, it's hard to take a job for $30,000 a year, which is where you have to start out at the entry-level positions at some of the corporations.
And, quite frankly, what the guys do is that they sit back and they wait and anticipate someone knocking on the door, giving them $150,000-a-year job with, yet, no experience.
RASHAD- And this is something that I think is a major problem, because I really don't feel it's the League's responsibility to kind of get these guys up to date, teach them how to write resumes. But, more so, put credible people who have been through what they've been through in front of them; that lies on the players' association.
And somehow, I don't know -- For whatever reason, the players' association kind of disappears when you go into this transition stage; and that's when you really need the Union and the camaraderie, and your -- the wisdom of some of the retired players. That's when you need it the most. And, unfortunately, they haven't stepped up to the plate for that.
LEY- But, obviously, the Union's not represented here this morning. But let me ask both you guys as former players -- How can you give a wake-up call to somebody if they've been enabled for 10, 15 years?
RASHAD- Mike …
LEY- All of the sudden, they get cut. If the turk calls, "Coach wants to see you." Now your life's changed. It's a little late, isn't it?
RASHAD- Well, I can tell you right now, it's way late.
HAYNES- Well, every player knows that their career is going to be -- could end at any time. The average careers of the NFL player is less than four years. So anybody thinking they're going to have a Hall of Fame or all-pro type career, have an opportunity to play in the Super Bowl, could be dreaming. It could be a pipe dream.
So they need to know that, from the very beginning. When they get drafted -- like these guys just getting drafted today and yesterday -- they have a wonderful opportunity. They have an opportunity to do some great things that many people in this country will never have an opportunity to do. They've got to make sure they're doing the right things to protect themselves and to prolong their careers. But it could end tomorrow. They could step off a curb…
LEY- … many could have an injury. Exactly.
RASHAD- Well, and I …
LEY- Mike Haynes, Kenyon Rashad, thank you very much. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate …
HAYNES- All right, Bob.
LEY- Next up -- Affluent athletes imparting the value of a hard-won dollar to their kids. We'll check our e-mail inbox, as we continue.Send this story to a friend | Most sent stories
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