Consummate pro Marvin Harrison elected to Hall of Fame

INDIANAPOLIS -- Mondays were reserved as practice days for the backups under former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy. He wanted those players to get as many snaps as possible while the starters and key reserves let their bodies rest from playing in the game the day before.

Marvin Harrison had his own set of rules on Mondays.

He was routinely on the practice field, too, running routes as if he was facing some of the NFL's premier cornerbacks, not a defensive back who likely got the majority of his snaps on special teams during game day.

That was Marvin Harrison, and that dedication and preparation are two of the reasons he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

"The first day I ever practiced as a Colt, I watched Marvin Harrison and you would have thought we were playing a game," former Colts center Jeff Saturday said. "He was running every route 100 miles per hour, catching every ball. He was super competitive, even against his own teammates. That was the type of mentality and tempo that he set. That's special. He was never backing down."

Dungy added, "He never wanted to let a practice go by where he didn't work on his craft. You would see catches made, adjustments and routes and things during the game. You saw the same things during the week. Nothing he did surprised me because he made the same kind of catches in practice day in and day out the whole seven years I was there."

It wasn't a matter of Harrison trying to show up his teammates. He simply wanted to be one of the best receivers in the NFL. Pro Bowl and future Hall of Fame cornerbacks such as Charles Woodson and Champ Bailey called Harrison one of the hardest receivers to cover.

Harrison had at least 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns in eight consecutive seasons. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro selection. Harrison was second in league history in receptions when he retired in 2008. He ended his career with 1,102 receptions for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns.

"His quickness and speed were so good," said former Colts cornerback Marlin Jackson, who faced Harrison on a regular basis in practice. "I don't know if there is any tape of anybody ever getting a solid jam on him, getting their hands on him. If so, it had to be later in his career. But when he was at the height of his game, he was pretty much untouchable and he was so hard to read.

"From a cornerback's perspective, you didn't know his route because everything looked the same. His tempo was the same and you were afraid of that speed that he had. He had the ability to get out of the break so fast that it was really hard to judge what he was doing."

Harrison, quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Edgerrin James and receiver Reggie Wayne were so intense that, at times, the games seemed easier than practice, former Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said.

"I didn't think I could make it at first when I got there," Brackett said. "I was playing against a whole bunch of potential Hall of Famers. We had so much talent on the field. When we got to the preseason and the regular season, the game slowed down because everyone else didn't have those great players on their team."